By Editor Wayne Veysey| Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this
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Arsenal have opened preliminary talks with Joel Campbell about an improved Arsenal contract, Football Insider sources understand.
The 23-year-old forward signed a new contract 12 months ago to extend his deal until 2018 but the Gunners are ready to reward his status as a first-team player.
Arsenal are willing to offer Campbell a £60,000-a-week deal to replace his existing agreement.
Arsene Wenger is keen to keep Campbell after being impressed by how he has taken his first-team opportunity in the last three months.
Campbell has emerged from the shadows to make 17 appearances for the Gunners this season, scoring two goals, and has often been preferred to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain since the England man returned to fitness.
The Costa Rica international has staked his claim for a more regular role on the flanks after injuries robbed Wenger of Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain for lengthy periods as well as long-term absentees Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky.
Campbell joined Arsenal in 2011 but has had loan spells at Lorient, Real Betis, Olympiakos and Villarreal and rarely featured up until the end of October.
Asked at the start of November if he was looking to leave Arsenal in January, Campbell said: “No, I’m an Arsenal player and I’m very happy here. I’m fighting to achieve my aims and hope to stay here for a long time.”
The Costa Rica international admits he had to be patient earlier in the season while he waited for his first-team opportunity.
“Obviously as a player you always want to play, but we have lots of very good players here so you have to be patient and make the most of your opportunity when it comes around,” explained Campbell.
“I’m happy playing in any position. I can play centrally, but I feel comfortable on the right too and I just try to do the best job I can.
“I’m trying to take advantage of my opportunity but I know that what happens next is up to the manager. I’m just focusing on playing and performing as well as possible and the rest is up to him.”