Sol Campbell is set to complete a surprise return to Arsenal by the end of the week after impressing the club's backroom staff in a 45-minute runout for the Gunners second string.
Campbell, 35, played the first half of the Arsenal reserves match at West Ham on Tuesday evening and afterwards revealed that he was on the verge of signing until the end of the season for the club he played for between 2001 and 2006, winning two Premier League and three FA Cup trophies.
"I cannot tell you how much I've missed playing after being out for so long," the former England centreback told reporters.
"There are still a few technicalities to iron out but I'm signing for Arsenal until the end of the season and it is fantastic, marvellous."
Campbell, who has been training at Arsenal for nearly two months, has barely played since the end of last season following his departure from Portsmouth and a subsequent, ill-fated brief stint with fourth tier outfit Notts County.
But he appeared sharp as he made a series of important interventions and his performance earned him an enthusiastic review from Arsenal reserve-team manager Neil Banfield.
"Sol is a fantastic professional," Banfield said. "He came in and said it was great to be out there playing.
"He's played with these youngsters before and I've got to say he is a first-class professional."
Banfield said he had never expected Campbell to last longer than 45 minutes. "That was planned to give him a run-out as he hasn't played in five months," he said. "We may try and get another fixture for him in the coming weeks so he can get another game."
But his former team-mate, Martin Keown, believes the veteran could play a much more central role in Arsenal's push to land their first trophy since 2004.
"Without a doubt if he had not shown the right signs, that he was fit and sharp enough, there is no way that Arsenal would have considered it," Keown said.
"What would have been a concern for them is whether Sol still has the hunger to get back into top level football and he has obviously proved that."
Keown admitted he was surprised that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger had decided to resign a player who left the club under something of a cloud in the wake of his half-time substitution and subsequent walkout in a match against West Ham in February 2006.
The Gunners boss has passed on opportunities to re-sign the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Patrick Vieira in the past but Keown believes Campbell can have a significant influence on an Arsenal squad that is short on the experience of winning things.
"I think it is as much to do with what he wants in the dressing room," Keown added.
"As a young player you need those senior players to help drag you over the line. When you have not won something for a number of years, as is the case for most of that group, you just need to be nurtured. Sol is very good at that.
"And he is very strong and powerful in the air which is maybe something that is missing from the two current central defenders.
"Gallas and Vermaelen are playing very well but without a doubt if you are going to win a championship you need three or four good, top central defenders.
"Sol is a bit like a train: once you start him up and fire him in the right direction he takes a hell of a lot of stopping. They will have a job to get him out of the team if he gets into it."
Source: AFP Global Edition