So the move appears to be on. Although not fully confirmed by the club yet, it appears that after coming through 45 minutes for the reserves last night, Sol Campbell is once again an Arsenal player. It is almost as surprising as the first time he signed back in 2001, and shows a flexibility to transfer dealings that many thought Wenger was incapable of.
The player himself has confirmed the move, saying:
“There are still a few technicalities to be ironed out but I am signing until the end of the season, and it’s fantastic, great, marvellous. I’m ecstatic to be back at Arsenal and I have worked bloody hard to get there. Arsene Wenger has been an inspiration.”
“He has watched me closely after letting me train at Arsenal for nearly two months. He’s not stupid – he wouldn’t have taken me back if he didn’t like what he has seen. I’ve missed it and I’ve a gut feeling this is the right move. It’s no longer a hunger to get back – it’s turned into a craving. I’m raring to go.”
Even from these words, it is clear that Sol is desperate to prove himself again after a turbulent year. He was given a whole heap of false promises at Notts County, and broke his contract as a result, knowing that it wasn’t the be the swansong he wanted for his career. While no-one can doubt that he has a chequered past, he is equally a winner who has the drive to make the decisions he feels he needs to make.
There are plenty who have their doubts about the move, and in particular Sol’s ability to cut it at the top level given his 35 years. But he isn’t being signed to break the Gallas-Vermaelen pairing, he is there to stop us seeing Silvestre at centre back so often. And that can only be a good thing.
In all seriousness, Wenger has been watching Campbell for three months in training, and will have put him through he ringer before signing him up. He has shown a lack of sentiment in the past, and given how Campbell left the club, he was likely to be the beneficiary of even less. But if Wenger has seen the drive in him, and more importantly the fitness levels, then it makes a lot of sense.
It also proves a lot of people wrong about the manager. I have seen the same people who complain about the youth project go on to moan about this signing. Those same people who insist we need a player for now, not for the future, dislike a signing that matches that criteria exactly.
It also puts paid to the notion that Wenger gives preferential treatment to foreign youngsters. Phillippe Senderos is still a fine defender, but will surely leave after being frozen out so comprehensively, while the door has been left open for an Englishman eleven years his senior.
You could have got fantastic odds on this being our first signing of the window.
Elsewhere, the Fran Merida saga continues, with the player saying he ‘needs time’ to decide what he wants to do. It all seems to be going down the Flamini route, to be honest, and I’d be surprised to see the Spaniard here next season. We can hardly guarantee him first team football given our plethora of midfield options both in the first team and coming through the ranks.
And that’s it for now. Welcome back Sol.