In the last three major tournaments on the international stage, one country has successfully dominated them all, controlling and outscoring their opponents in sublime and quite simply beautiful style, on the road to lifting two European Championships and one World Cup in front of the watching world.
Spain are enjoying their greatest period of success at the moment under the leadership of Vicente Del Bosque, boasting a star-studded squad that sees an impeccable number of quality natives miss out on a call-up every year due to the sheer amount of the competition there is for places.
The cycle keeps getting stronger because more and more talent is continuing to pour off the conveyor belt in a nation that is producing wonderkids at an intense pace.
One of those promising youngsters, José Campaña, will be there for all to see in the upcoming Premier League season, wearing a Crystal Palace shirt as those on the faithful terraces at Selhurst Park will watch in awe of the midfielder’s excellence at such a young age. He’s a fantastic acquisition by Ian Holloway in the transfer market and has all the components to be the magician in the middle of the park for the Eagles this season.
Campaña, 20, is the captain of the Spanish U20s and is arriving in England having already tasted success in the game, winning the 2011 and 2012 U19 championships, in a squad that contained many global prospects such as, Gerard Deulofeu (FC Barcelona) and Jesé Rodríguez (Real Madrid).
The £1.75m price tag not only adds to the sincerity of how good of a coup this could potentially be from Palace’s scouting system, but the diminutive outlay paid to bring Campaña to London slightly reduces the amount of pressure on his shoulders, although Palace will be looking for him to make everything tick when wanting to launch an attack on their opponents.
When he was set the difficult task of trying to keep Blackpool in the Premier League two years ago, Holloway was forced to ship around for bargains on a extremely limited budget compared to the other 19 teams in the division, yet had the Seasiders on the cusp of survival on the last game of the 2010/11 season, which was an achievement in itself for both club and manager.
Holloway will no doubt instruct Palace to show no fear and attack the opposition with the same heart Blackpool did, but he will have learned from his mistakes in that solitary top-flight campaign with the tangerines, such as the importance of closing games out when in a leading position.
One man who was central to just about everything that Blackpool team managed to conjure up in the Premier League was Charlie Adam and his creative expertise made him the vanguard of Holloway’s underdog side that so nearly defied the odds that year. Campaña can be the reincarnation of the Adam figure in Holloway’s team, as his range of passing, pinpoint delivery and motivation to attack is very similar to the talismanic Scotsman.
Campaña has joined Palace from Sevilla, where he was schooled as a youngster and rose through the club’s ranks to make 20 La Liga appearances for Los Rojiblancos last season. His nature is to create openings on the pitch and his exemplary vision and touch is nothing less than expected from the typical Spaniard nowadays.
Just like Adam, he is a gifted set-piece taker and his awareness of the need to defend was another item added to his list of attributes when scouted. He can nick the ball away, burst with acceleration and set up an attack with a slick pass. He will indisputably profit from somebody such as, Mile Jedinak sitting either behind or alongside him in a defensive role, allowing him the freedom to craft in the centre of the park but Campaña also has the ability to track back when called upon.
Depending on whether he hits the ground running or not, we could be looking at an early contender for bargain of the season in Campaña. The likes of Ashley Westwood for Aston Villa proved last season that it’s not all about experience in the Premier League and young players can step-up and be counted in that part of the field.
Holloway admitted on Wednesday that Palace are behind their rivals in preparation for the start of the season, and will have to continue to be meticulous in the transfer window in a bid to bring in enough players to keep the club above the drop zone. But the signing of Campaña has shed light on Holloway’s negotiation skills, considering Sevilla will compete in the UEFA Europa League this term, and although a few more players are evidently needed, Campaña can be the gem to inspire the team to safety this season.