Arsenal’s forgotten men Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell

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With Arsenal’s pre-season underway with the Barclays Asia Trophy in Singapore, and a squad full of big names such as Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil and new signing Petr Cech, as well as some talented youngsters; namely Gedion Zelalem, Chuba Akpom and Dan Crowley, it’s easy to forget some of the players who have not traveled. No, not Alexis Sanchez, David Ospina and Serge Gnabry who are on break after representing their nations in tournaments recently, or Thomas Rosicky  and Danny Welbeck who are currently injured. These forgotten men are two players coming off underwhelming loan spells – Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell, who is currently representing Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. They have both expressed their desires to make it at Arsenal, but judging off their most recent loan moves, have they sufficiently developed to do so?

French striker Yaya Sanogo joined Arsenal on July 1st 2013 on a free transfer after leaving French outfit Auxerre. Upon signing, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had this to say: “Sanogo is a good young signing for us. He has shown that he has potential with his recent performances for Auxerre and also for the France U/20 side. We are looking forward to Yaya joining us and continuing his promising development.” Now 22 years old, has Sanogo developed as the Arsenal manager would have hoped? Standing at 6’4”, the Frenchman is a quite imposing figure. His strengths are his strength, pace and work rate, which make him quite a handful for defenders, as his 2014 FA Cup Final cameo proved. His finishing, however, leaves a lot to be desired, as well as his dribbling. He joined Crystal Palace on loan in January and despite a promising start with a goal vs Southampton in the FA Cup, he failed to score in his other ten matches for the club. Sanogo’s highlights of his Arsenal career so far have been a goal in the Champions League in Arsenal’s victory over Borussia Dortmund in November of last year and a four goal haul in the 2014 edition of the Emirates Cup versus Benfica. He is yet to score his first goal in the Premier League for Arsenal in eleven appearances, albeit mostly off the bench. With Arsenal still searching for a striker to lead them to glory, Yaya Sanogo does not currently seem ready to be that.

23-year-old Costa Rican international Joel Campbell joined Arsenal on August 19th 2011 and was immediately loaned out to Lorient in the French Ligue 1 due to him failing to obtain a work permit. He had a quite promising debut season in Europe, scoring three times in 25 appearances from the wing. The following season, having still not received a work permit, he was loaned out once more, this time to La Liga side Real Betis. He ended the season with two goals in 28 appearances in a stronger league. Campbell was finally granted a work permit in 2013 but was once again loaned out. He joined Greek club Olympiakos, where he was able to play in the UEFA Champions League. That season he scored eleven goals in forty three appearances including a memorable strike from range versus Manchester United in the Champions League. The following season, after starring for Costa Rica at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Wenger made it known that Campbell would be part of his first team plans. While not a regular starter, he was given starts in both domestic cup competitions as well as some Premier League substitute appearances, in which he failed to impress. He was sent on loan to Villareal in January as a part of the deal which saw Arsenal purchase Brazilian defender Gabriel. With one goal in 22 appearances, and not many stand out performances, it is fair to say that Campbell did not put himself in good stead to challenge for a place at Arsenal when he returned. 

With Sanogo linked with a loan move to Ajax, he perhaps has one final opportunity to force his way into Wenger’s thoughts. With Olivier Giroud and Welbeck as Arsenal’s current first team strikers as well as the promising Akpom, he will have to dramatically improve in front of goal. Campbell, on the other hand is rumored to be close to a permanent switch to Real Sociedad. While he has shown glimpses of his talent on numerous occasions, he has not sufficiently impressed in his limited opportunities to seriously compete with those at Arsenal who play in his preferred position, such as Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and at times, Jack Wilshere. 

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