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Is the unpredictable Lukas Podolski a gamble for Arsenal?

Kit Holden
Lukas Podolski 300x225 Is the unpredictable Lukas Podolski a gamble for Arsenal?

Lukas Podolski is in scintillating form this season

With rumours emerging in both German and English tabloids today of the impending return to England of Arjen Robben, it is perhaps a good time to remind ourselves that “Bild” exclusives must generally be taken with a pinch of salt. The story which Germany’s biggest newspaper broke last week, however, remains to be conclusively refuted: and if the its mysterious source can be trusted, it seems that Lukas Podolski may well be on his way to Arsenal this summer.

The report which emerged in “Bild” last Tuesday claimed that the Germany and 1. FC Köln striker had agreed personal terms with the London club, and that he should leave the Bundesliga for a transfer fee of at least £18m. While the sudden appearance of such a sensational story is anything but inconspicuous, the rumour has been greeted with anything but denial from the implicated parties. Both Arsenal and Podolski’s representatives have declined to comment, while Köln manager Ståle Solbakken told delighted journalists “I know more than you”, a declaration sufficiently ambiguous to keep the fire of speculation roaring.

In truth, it is Köln’s reaction which is the most telling. Arsenal, for fear of allegations of tapping up, are well advised to keep their distance, while the Podolski camp – particularly given the player’s electric form this season – may well smell a bidding war. But the club which “Poldi” has come to represent in recent years seem remarkably resigned to their fate.

It would be, after all, a distinctly depressing fate. As they prepare themselves, once again, for a fierce relegation battle, it is to their local hero which the Billy-Goats are turning this year. His 16 league goals this season have put him among the top four most prolific strikers in the Bundesliga, the latest of which was a crucial 81st minute equaliser against Hoffenheim last Sunday. It was a goal which the Sky Deutschland commentator greeted by asking “What would 1. FC Köln be without Lukas Podolski?” The answer, in all likelihood, is a second a division team.

The real question, however, is not what Köln would be without Podolski, but what Arsenal would be with him. While the striker’s influence in the Rhein-Energie Stadion cannot be overestimated, the question over his ability to excel at any other club continues to loom large over a career full of unfulfilled potential. When he stormed onto the scene at the 2006 World Cup, great things were predicted of the Polish born striker. But his failure at FC Bayern and subsequent return to the safety of his home club was, perhaps, illustrative of a psychological fragility which his critics delight in exposing.

For all his technical prowess, Podolski has forever been the great under achiever. Even at Köln, this season is something of an anomaly, and for Germany he excels almost exclusively in tournaments. His form, so his critics say, is entirely dependant on a mentality which is, like Arsenal’s, famously volatile.

And yet, perhaps we put too much store on that ill-fated spell in Munich. If Podolski hasn’t matured as much as the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger since 2006, there are undoubtedly signs of improvement. His relationship with new manager Solbakken got off to the rockiest of starts when the Norwegian relieved him of the captaincy early on in his tenure, and yet Podolski’s form has clearly not suffered. Perhaps, after all, the little kid from Cologne has finally grown up.

£18m, though, remains a vast amount of money to spend on a player who is yet to impress at a major club. And with rumours of interest from Milan also emerging this week – Podolski was also linked with a move to Italy in the summer – that pinch of salt may still be necessary. You would not blame either the player or the club from wishing to capitalise financially on what has been Podolski’s best Bundesliga season to date, and the refusal from any party to confirm or repudiate the rumours may well just be a case of the cards being kept as close as possible to the chest.

Certainties, in this particular case, are notably scarce. And it is perhaps fitting that, even with the figures and allegations currently being bandied around, the future of this most unpredictable player should remain ambiguous. Only one thing is certain: whichever club Lukas Podolski calls home next season, be it Köln, Arsenal or Milan, they should not think that they have struck gold. A good player he will always be, but predict him at your peril. At £18m, the stakes are, quite simply, far too high.

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  • omasta

    ” At £18m, the stakes are, quite simply, far too high.” I couldn’t agree more. It would be much better to have Nicklas Bendtner back from Sunderland and drop Podolski altogether.

  • UrbanSpaceMonkey

    I’d rather go for Clint Dempsey,a proven premier league player who gets better and better.

  • dionysiusx1

    It should always be borne in mind when talking about strikers how much they will likely thrive (maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day soon) in any side coached by Wenger, whose teams will create many more chances than most other clubs.  Sixteen goals this term for a relegation threatened outfit could be considerably more in a side capable of putting it on a plate for its forwards (well, forward, then).  That said, Wenger must have seen something in Chamakh that hasn’t exactly borne fruit, although in his case I think genuine cult status (for whatever reason) awaits.  After all, Arsene knows, so I have faith in his acquiring Podolski if that should come to pass.

  • Toffer99

    Someone please enlighten the ignorant. What does “allegations of tapping up” mean?

  • Lennoxy2

    Lucas Podolski is a
    good buy for Arsenal, period. With a teacher like Arsene Wenger behind him, he
    can finally unfold his true talent. Injury and Klinsmann’s preference for the tall
    and header-specialist striking duo of Luca Tony and Miroslav Klose have
    prevented him from realising his full potential at Bayern Munich; when Heynckes
    took over from Klinsmann, Podolski was out of injury and became a regular with two
    goals and five assists in his last five games for Bayern. I am sure that
    Maestro Wenger has already recognized the special talent of this young man. Let
    us not forget that this is the player who have consistently performed
    extraordinarily well when playing for the German national team. At the age of
    21 he had already scored 16 goals for the national team; until today the youngest
    player to have achieved this marvellous feat. And the technical committee of
    FIFA named him the best newcomer at the 2006 world cup. At the age of 23 he had
    scored 30 goals for the national team; only six players before him were younger
    when they reached this milestone, amongst them Pele, Ronaldo, and Puskas. He is
    versatile and can be deployed as a left winger, central striker, or offensive
    midfielder. Arsenal should sign him now and don’t look back. With the correct
    training and teaching, Prince Poldi could become a true football great.
     

  • http://twitter.com/kryptonite_69 Gooner H

    can we get Ibra from Milan – if not Podo looks a good alternative.

    Will this mean that van Persie stays just behind him to run at the defences?

  • Onmebike

    An unofficial, surreptitious approach to a player to ascertain if he is
    interested in a transfer.

  • Beckenbauer

    Poldolski is, without a doubt, an outstanding intuitive striker; however he seems to have serious psychological problems when he is outside of his familiar habitat.
    He never felt at home in Munich, he just wasn’t, at any time, the type for the glamorous FC Hollywood – also known as Bayern München.
    He has no command of English to speak of and I don’t for a second believe he’d ever feel at home in a metropolis like London.
    Of course Wenger, coming from Strasbourg is fluent in German and he would be perfectly able to communicate with him – but so was Klinsmann, however to no avail. 
    I’m sure he’d suffer terribly from homesickness both in England and in Italy, and that would certainly affect his performance as it did in Munich.
    He is anything but a cosmopolitan and only really feels at home in Cologne where he is their undisputed hero. Just look at the pictures of him in this year’s carnival parade, dressed as a Cologne guardsman, he looks so happy.
    He’s a simple honest chap and definitely is not the mercenary type who is just after luxury and money and doesn’t care where dough comes from as long as it comprises seven figures.

  • lovetruncheon

    “GERMAN NEWSPAPERS TELL LIES ABOUT TRANFERS TO SELL PAPERS”

    thats about the gist of it?

    then a blog speculating on what is probably untrue?


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