Arsenal star admits loan moves equipped him for life in first team

Joel Campbell says his impressive form for Arsenal this season is a result of making several loan moves away from England.

Arsenal star Joel Campbell has told the club's website that he has become a better player because of multiple loan moves away which prepared him well for life in the Gunners first team.

The 23-year-old joined the North London club in 2011 from his native Costa Rica but did not play a single minute of competitive football during his first three years at the Emirates Stadium.

Instead, the winger was sent out on loan to Lorient, Real Betis, and Olympiacos before making his Arsenal debut at the start of last season, and he then spent the second half of the campaign in Spain with Villarreal.

Campbell was a first-team regular for all four clubs in each of his loan spells, enjoying his most successful season in Greece with Olympiacos two years ago when he netted 11 goals in 43 appearances.

Since returning from Villarreal last summer, the Costa Rican has enjoyed his first true breakthrough at Arsenal, playing regular first-team football for the first time since moving to England. 

Campbell's Gunners teammate Alex Iwobi said earlier this week that he believed he had benefited from staying at the club rather than going out on loan, but Campbell insists it is only those temporary spells abroad which have enabled him to rise to the standard of the Premier League.

The 23-year-old told the club's website: "For me, they were four special seasons because I learned a lot. I experienced different cultures, different lifestyles, different ways of playing and that made me a more assured person.

"French football is a little physical, more tactical, a lot of strong players. Spanish football is very technical, a lot of quality. Greek football isn’t as strong as those but Olympiacos is a team who always expect to win so we played with pressure to win every game.

“For me it was something very good. I owe it to those experiences in Villarreal, Betis, Olympiacos, Lorient. Those experiences have made me the person I am. I always had confidence in my capability as player. When I got this opportunity this season after four years, I was ready for it, to play for Arsenal."

Campbell has certainly grabbed the chance that was handed to him this season, marking his Premier League debut against Swansea City at the end of October with a goal after injuries to other players saw Arsene Wenger hand him his chance.

Since then, the Costa Rica international has gone on to take his tally to four goals in 27 appearances and has been pushing for a regular starting spot.

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