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Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sol Campbell: Arsenal, Celtic, Sunderland or West Ham United – Where does his future lie?


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Twelve months ago Sol Campbell was preparing for life in League Two with Notts County. Today he has four top class clubs chasing his signature.

Campbell shocked the football world last summer by agreeing a five-year deal with Notts County but it only took one game for the former England international and FA Cup and Premier League winner to realise he had made a monumental mistake. That huge culture shock was probably just what Campbell needed though as it made him realise what he had to offer and more determine to make the most of his time as a professional.

The former Portsmouth and Spurs defender was given the chance to train with his former club Arsenal and get his career back on tracks. However, he impressed Arsene Wenger so much with his fitness and attitude that the Frenchman opted to give him a short-term contract. He stepped in to replace the injured Gallas in the back four and didn’t look out of place back in the Premier League or the Champions League. In fact some pundits were so impressed that they believed he could even work his way into Fabio Capello’s World Cup squad.

Campbell said at the end of last season that he was looking forward to representing Arsenal in the new season but the picture at the Emirates has changed quite considerably. Gallas, Senderos and Silvestre have all been released by the club and Wenger has already signed Laurent Koscielny and stated that he is still on the lookout for another defender. With that in mind, Campbell, who is a free agent, may end up facing long spells on the bench at the Emirates.

However there is no shortage of possible suitors willing to secure the powerful defender’s services.

Glasgow Celtic

New Celtic boss Neil Lennon is determined to bolster his squad ahead of the new SPL season and believes Campbell’s experience would be invaluable as they try to wrestle back the league title from their rivals Rangers. The Bhoys can offer him regular football and even a crack at the Champions League.

However, if Campbell didn’t like the standard of football in League Two he probably won’t be impressed by the offerings on a cold, wet night at Pittodrie either.

Sunderland

Steve Bruce has made great strides at the Stadium of Light and has a vision of where the club should be heading. A former defender himself, he will have huge respect for Campbell’s physical presence and positional sense. Campbell’s experience would be crucial in the development of Michael Turner and co and he would make the Black Cats a much tougher side to break down.

He has reportedly been offered a two-year deal at the Stadium of Light and at his stage of the career that security may prove decisive.

West Ham United

Then we have the Hammers, the team that almost destroyed his career in 2006. West Ham had taken an early two-goal lead at Highbury thanks to lapses in concentration by Campbell. At half-time he was substituted and walked out of the club, not to be heard from for days. The Upton Park fans still talk about that night fondly, not only because of Campbell’s walkout but that they won 3-2, but could Campbell do a job for Avram Grant’s new–look Hammers? Of course he could. When you compare him to Matthew Upson then there is only one winner, especially if you look at Upson’s form in the latter half of the season.

West Ham offer Campbell the chance to remain in London and work with one of the best man managers in the top flight. Like Sunderland, West Ham can’t offer him European football but they can give him regular game time and at his age that’s all you care about.

Arsenal

Then you have the Gunners. Campbell proved he can still cut it at the top but his chances at the Emirates may be limited when you consider Wenger’s transfer intentions. Would he be happy to be a bit-part player at a top four club or does he want to play football?

That will be the big decision running through his head right now, but where do you think Campbell will start the new season? I’d love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth

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