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Arsenal Loan Watch: Update on Joel Campbell, Currently with FC Lorient

Matthew Snyder@schnides14Analyst IIIFebruary 28, 2012

Teenager Joel Campbell, signed this past summer by Arsene Wenger, was unable to acquire a work permit for this Premier League season and has been plying his trade with Ligue 1 outfit FC Lorient, which he joined on a season-long loan.

Lorient, managed by Christian Gourcuff, are a familiar destination for Arsenal players, with Francis Coquelin having spent 2010-11 with the side.

Campbell is just the latest Gunners' signee to encounter difficulties ascertaining a work permit, following Carlos Vela and Ryo Miyaichi.

Both those players were immediately sent on loans as well in order to get them valuable experience in Europe. Campbell's current situation is much the same story.

The Costa Rica native, one of the stars of last summer's U-20 World Cup, joined Lorient ahead of their Sept. 10 match against Sochaux and made an immediate impact, providing an assist in an eventual 1-1 draw after coming on as a 78th-minute substitute.

He has since gone on to make 16 appearances for Les Merlus (seven starts), adding two goals to his name alongside that lone assist.

Middling production, but Gourcuff has raved about the 19-year-old's potential.

He considers Campbell to be "very promising" but acknowledges that the forward still has plenty of room to progress as a player.

He's just come to Europe...it is normal that he still has progress to make, but I don't have a concern about him. He is a boy who is listening to the others.

He is rigorous and he is disciplined. He can still progress on the level of the choices which he could make on the pitch, so that they are more relevant, but with the experience it will come.

Gourcuff, considered one of the best technical coaches in France, frequently boasts sides who play attractive attacking football despite operating on a limited budget.

He has used Campbell largely as a the right forward in his 4-4-2 formation, where the teenager is allowed to cut in on his left in front of goal, something of a specialty of the left-footed attacker.

Campbell has not shied away from the biggest occasions—he scored in a 2-1 Lorient victory against Montpellier on Oct. 26 in the League Cup.

And that ability to open up onto his left foot was on full display in the Nov. 16 friendly for Costa Rica against Spain, where Campbell scored on a sublime strike from 20 yards out.

Performances that Wenger surely tracked with interest, always with an eye on next season.

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