14 June 2014

Özil to Campbell, Özil to Balotelli? I like the sound of that!

First, let me report first of all, that I'm reporting from America's hinterlands, where my cousin's wedding means that I am (a) three sheets to the wind an (b) at the mercy of my hotel's dodgy Internet Explorer-only "Business Center". As such, any accuracies, typographical, factual, or otherwise, are completely and entirely beyond my control. With that in mind, I bring you glad tidings from Brazil, whence a Gunner once-to-be and a Gunner-who-might-yet-be have each shown what they're capable of. I speak, of course, of Costa Rica's Joel Campbell and Italy's Mario Balotelli, each of whom scored a wondrous goal.

As concerns Campbell, the lad scored a nifty goal that helped Costa Rica despatch Uruguay in a bit of a shocker, a 3-1 victory over the Dracu-luis-less Urugay, and he offered a reminder along the way that the on-loan striker might have something to offer should Arsenal seek, you know, something more in the striker-department. This is not to suggest that he could compete or supercede Giroud, but he does offer an intriguing change of pace. With his work-permit issues clarified, his performance in Brazil looks to be off to a bright start, perhaps bright enough to suggest that we might do well to recall from his loan to Olympiakos, where he hasn't quite dazzled but has enticed—and his early returns from Brazil have suggested that he might still have something to offer to Arsenal. Not only did he score, after all, but he also assisted for Costa Rica's third goal, suggesting that Campbell can make things happen for himself and for teammates.

A bit more tantalizing might be Mario's performance against England, against whom he delivered a well-timed header against Man City's Joe Hart, timing well and nodding home even better. It may not have equalled van Persie's header against Spain, but it was enough to suggest that, at 23, Balotelli is still a diamond in the rough, just as capable of scintillating moments of breathtaking beauty as he is of jaw-dropping, forehead-slapping moments of idiocy. As a target-man leading the line, he could yet become one of the best. As a target, drawing ire, he could still attract a fair amount of approbation. Still, his play against England was superb, and his upside could still very well surpass his downside.

Between Campbell and Balotelli, it's intriguing to say the least to consider what they could contribute to Arsenal. In the case of Campbell, the matter is fairly simple. With his work-permit issues resolved, we could simply bring him back to see if he can make good on the promise that convinced us to sign him in the first place. He's shown flashes of promise, enough perhaps to prove that the 21-year old could contribute to Arsenal's 2014-15 campaign, and it wouldn't cost us a penny more than we've already contributed, having initially signed the man only to see those work-permit issues prevent him from playing. With the paperwork sorted and with the player starting to make good on his potential, he might be ready to offer us an alternative to the work-horse that is Giroud.

A bit further afield, Balotelli might be showing that he is shedding the impulsive immaturity that has dogged him in the past. Having been mishandled (to put it mildly) by Mourinho and then Mancini, he might be ready to work for a manager who can understand and support him rather than chastise and belittle him. His goal against England on Saturday offers a reminder of his potential, as he sized up the cross and headed home with confidence, just part of a commanding performance in Italy's victory over the Three Lions.

Without slighting the service that either Campbell or Balotelli have received, it's tantalizing to say the least to ponder how each of them might perform for Arsenal with service they might receive from Özil, not to mention Ramsey or Cazorla, to name a few. If we could bring Campbell back to Arsenal, great. He might offer a welcome-alternative to Giroud, if only for pace if not finishing. If we could pull off the master-stroke of signing Balotelli, well, the sky might very well be the limit. Under Arsene's tutelage, and with the service and support he'd receive from the midfielders in our squad, he might just start to cross the threshold that separates "potential" from "performance." With Arsene hanging about offering commentary on the World Cup, I wouldn't be surprised in the least if he found a moment to chat with Campbell and Balotelli, bringing one or both into the fold before the World Cup is through.