Arsenal forward Joel Campbell says loan moves away from the Emirates Stadium have played an "important" role in establishing himself in Arsene Wenger's ranks. Arsene Wenger signed the Costa Rica international in the summer of 2011 from Deportivo Saprissa as a promising forward but has sent him on loan to Lorient, Real Betis and Olympiakos in three consecutive seasons in order to help him continue his development.
The 23-year-old star was handed the chance to finally prove his worth at north London last season after he caught the attention of the French boss during the 2014 World Cup where he led his national team to the quarter-finals. But after struggling for regular game time in the first part of last season he was sent once again on loan to Villarreal as part of the deal which brought Gabriel Paulista in the opposite direction.
Campbell returned to the club in the summer after Wenger opted against signing any outfield player and has seized his opportunities amid the recent injuries to Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He has featured in Wenger's plans in the last four games, scoring his first goal for the club in the victory over Swansea City.
The Arsenal forward finally believes his patience is paying off following his time on loan, spells which have shaped him into the player he is now. "I really enjoyed my loan spells at Lorient, Betis, Olympiacos and more recently at Villarreal," he said to Arsenal Player. "Those experiences really helped me in terms of my personality and as life experience. They were great times for me.
"I had a great coach in Christian Gourcuff [at Lorient] and learnt a lot of things from him. It was like my first lesson here in Europe, I was happy and enjoyed it to the full. It's an important part of who I am today.
"Betis also treated me really well, the fans were amazing and I have to say I really enjoyed my stay there. The team had a great season and the fans were right behind the team and me personally so I'll never forget my time there.
"At Olympiacos I had lots of confidence - the coach, Michel, gave me a lot of confidence and made me an important player in the team, which I was able to make the most of. I was a more mature player by that point too as I'd been in Europe for two years and that was really important for me."
As a result of his success from loan outcast to first team regular, Campbell has therefore advised the 11 young Gunners currently on loan somewhere to "make the most" of their experience in order to mirror his rise.
"Life is about experiences," he said. "It's important to have had those experiences and I'm really happy about them. I enjoy it because as I said life is about having different experiences and now being here in the Premier League is another experience I'm enjoying, especially playing for a club like Arsenal.
"I would advise young players to make the most of the loan and to enjoy it. They should try to test themselves as footballers and people and do as well as they can so that they can come back to their parent club and be able to play."