The 22-year-old Arsenal attacker has made it through to the quarterfinals of the World Cup with Costa Rica after an impressive season on loan at Olympiakos and is widely expected to be kept at the Emirates next term to bolster Arsene Wenger’s attacking line up.
However, the North Londoners have another young attacking talent who has only just begun to break into the first team in Germany U19 attacker Serge Gnabry who did a solid job of covering for the injured Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain this term.
The 18-year-old was dynamic and energetic when deployed by the manager but with so many quality attacking midfield options on the books at Arsenal already, the potential inclusion of Joel Campbell in the first tea squad next term could block the youngster’s path to development.
The question is which would be the better option for Wenger? Undoubtedly Campbell, three years Gnabry’s senior, is the more experienced but there is absolutely no doubt the players possess a similar skill set and danger as well as being close in their development.
Campbell made 31 appearances in the Super League last term, scored 8 goals and made no assists whilst Gnabry made just 9 appearances for Arsenal, scored one goal and made no assists but whose all-round game is currently closer to being the finished article?
The Super League is not quite the same intensity and level of competition so this comparison is based on Campbell’s statistics from his 5 appearances in the Champions League last term in which he scored one goal and made no assists.
The Costa Rican averaged 1.4 shots per game on average to Gnabry’s 1.3 shots in the Premier League and averaged 2.4 dribbles per game to Gnabry’s 1.2 per game on average.
However, Campbell was dispossessed 1.8 times per game to Gnabry’s 1.1 and achieved a lower pass completion rate of 78.9% to Gnabry’s 85.3%.
Campbell averaged more key passes per game by quite a distance, 1.8 per game to Gnabry’s 0.6 per game and drew two fouls per game resulting in free kicks to Gnabry’s 0.8 per game.
In front of goal, Gnabry was the more efficient with his shots, 60% of which were on target to Gnabry’s 40%.
Overall, it’s quite clear the three years between the pair in age makes a difference, as well as the fact that Campbell has gained far more access to regular games but in terms of quality and accuracy.
Young Gnabry is more composed and effective with both his passing and finishing – in due course, the German will quite likely develop to become the better of the two player but, crucially, only if he has the same access to playing opportunities that Campbell has had in the last 12 months.
If Campbell comes in at the Emirates, it would be a wise idea to send Gnabry out on loan in order to continue his development and by the time he returns Arsenal may well have two of the finest young attacking prospects on the continent in the next few years.