Arsenal scout reveals Wenger's reaction to signing Joel Campbell

Danny Karbassiyoon, the man who helped the forward join the Gunners, has revealed what the Frenchman said to him moments before the Costa Rican's arrival in 2011


Joel Campbell’s move to Arsenal was a protracted one. The prodigious Costa Rica starlet had originally put pen-to-paper on a contract with the Gunners in 2011, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2014 when Campbell finally made his debut for Arsene Wenger’s side due to problems granting him a work permit.

Campbell, now 23, was spotted playing for Deportivo Saprissa by Arsenal’s North American scout Danny Karbassiyoon and signed a five-year deal with the club after rejecting the likes of Sevilla and Fiorentina.

In 2013, Campbell was granted the work permit he so badly sought after and following mixed loan spells at Lorient, Real Betis and Villarreal – the most successful of which was with Greek champions Olympiakos – Campbell returned to Arsenal this summer to take part in a full pre-season.

Highly-rated scout Karbassiyoon told Goal exactly what Wenger said to him just hours before the move was completed five years ago.

“When we were about to sign Joel I remember the boss calling me and it was a number I didn’t have in my phone," he said.

“I wasn’t sure whether to answer or not as it was from an unknown number. I said ‘hello’ and he said ‘hey Danny it’s Arsene, I just want to say a huge congratulations on finding Joel’.

“Anytime you hear Arsene Wenger tell you you’ve done a good job in any facet of life it’s a pretty good feeling especially when you’re a scout and you’ve done something that will benefit him as well.

“I’d seen Gedion Zelalem initially but because of his age Joel ended up signing first. That phone call caught me out of the blue. He asked me ‘what do you think his strengths? What do you think his weaknesses are? And then said congratulations I hope this is the first of many’."

Despite having played 18 times for the first team this season and scoring four goals in the process, Campbell has found game time difficult to come by this season.

The likes of Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck are currently considered ahead of him in the pecking order at Emirates Stadium, but coaches within the club, including Wenger, remain confident that Campbell will eventually get more minutes next season.