By Joe Brewin
Joel Campbell admits his season-long loan spell at Lorient has been an eye-opening experience.
The young striker has featured 25 times for Christian Gourcuff’s side this season, scoring four goals along the way in his debut campaign in Ligue 1.
Campbell is set to join Arsenal for pre-season training in July and believes his time in France has been a hugely positive learning experience.
“It was tough for me because I wanted to play for Arsenal this season,” the 19-year-old striker told Arsenal Player. “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.
"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.”
Campbell has already created ripples of excitement on the international stage too, first impressing for Costa Rica in their successful CONCACAF Under-20 Championship campaign last year before breaking into the senior side soon afterwards.
He has had to be patient for regular first-team opportunities this season with Lorient but the striker insists his loan spell will stand him in good stead for whatever lies ahead at Arsenal.
“I’m young and I’ve already played a lot of games here at Lorient,” he said. “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.”
Watch the full interview with Joel on Arsenal Player soon.Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 21 May 2012