Gunners striker Joel Campbell is happy with his loan spell experience at Lorient this campaign and is eager to be part of the Arsenal set up next season.
The 19-year-old Costa Rican forward became an Arsenal player last summer after some dazzling performances in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship had all of Europe’s top clubs on alert. He then broke into the senior national team, and has been a regular for the Costa Rican side and has scored goals against the most elite countries such as Brazil and Spain.
Despite his impressive performances on the international stage and his acquisition by the Gunners, he was not able to secure a work permit to play in England this season. Consequently the youngster was sent out to the well trodden path of Arsenal youngsters on loan to Lorient in the French first tier league.
He had to exercise patience and work hard for first-team opportunities for his new side, but managed to feature 25 times for Les Murles netting four times. His lack of goals were made up by the manner in which they were often scored (see video below), and he admits the experience has been invaluable and will instrumental in his development as he links up with the Gunners for pre-season training in July.
The 19-year-old striker told Arsenal Player:
It was tough for me because I wanted to play for Arsenal this season. But it’s a new experience for me and it’s a question of doing well, learning from European football and then coming back to Arsenal.
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Coming to Lorient has been really good for me. It’s a new experience for me to come and get a taste of French football, which is very competitive. I’ve learnt a lot here.
I came here just before the fourth round of games in Ligue 1 and they gave me the best possible welcome. They helped me and got me settled down quickly in the team so I could help them and the side. Lorient play a very similar game to Arsenal and that’s helped me for what lies ahead.
Football in France is very tactical, very tough and very physical. It’s been great for me, though. I’ve learnt a lot from the football here and I hope it helps me for my career.
I’ve learnt a lot of things from being in a relegation battle: mental strength and the unity we need to have to avoid relegation. These are tough times and for a player like me who’s just starting out it’s a great experience.
I’m young and I’ve already played a lot of games here at Lorient. I’ve scored goals, I’ve become the first Costa Rican to play in the French first division and the first Costa Rican to score in the French league.
The philosophy here at Lorient is the same as Arsenal’s. The way they train, the way they play is all very similar to Arsenal. That makes it easier for Arsenal to send players to Lorient because they’re going to learn the same things that they learn there.
Gilles Sunu told me that when you come on loan it’s difficult because you know you’re not going to play the whole season or the following season, which makes it very difficult to keep your place. We have to show everything we can to play the maximum number of games.
The youngster has a long way to go before he will break into the Gunners first team on a regular basis, but he can hopefully be part of the Carling Cup/FA Cup squads this season if he excels in the preseason fixtures while on their oversea’s exhibitions. But there is a high likelihood that the Costa Rican could be sent out on loan again to gain more first team experience.
With Wenger set to sell up to four strikers this summer (Vela, Bendtner, Chamakh and/or Park) there could potentially be space for Campbell to step up and stay with Arsenal next season even if he played with the reserves side for awhile if he can gain the work permit which hopefully will now be a breeze after spending a year in France.
What do you think? Should Campbell be sent back out on loan, maybe even to a Premier League side to gain more experience ahead of his promising Arsenal career? Or should Wenger keep the youngster in the first team setup and play him in the Carling Cup matches at least? Feel free to leave a comment below or discuss it in the new allArsenal.com forum here. Remember to sign-up and comment to go into WIN a 2012/13 Arsenal home shirt!
Campbell in action:
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