Wenger thrilled to land 'top-class' striker Podolski


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Arsenal yesterday confirmed their first signing of the summer, German forward Lukas Podolski from Cologne. The 26-year-old striker will be in place at the Emirates for next season, with Arsenal paying around £11m for him.

"We are delighted to secure the deal for Lukas Podolski and see him as an important part of our future," the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, said last night. "He is a top-class player, a very good finisher and a proven performer at club and international level.

"He is a very strong player and will provide us with good attacking options. We are happy to have made this signing early and we're looking forward to watching Lukas contribute at the European Championship over the summer, a level where he has already made 95 caps at the age of 26 – a phenomenal record [which] just shows his quality as a player."

Podolski was delighted at the chance to play in England. "I'm so happy to be joining Arsenal Football Club and to play in the Premier League," he said. "Arsenal is one of the top clubs in Europe with a huge history. There are many top-quality players at Arsenal and the style of football which the team plays is fantastic."

Podolski is able to play up front or on the left of a front three. He could be a very effective partner to Robin van Persie next season, playing on the left of a front three, which is his role for Germany. He would be a superior alternative to Van Persie than either Park Ju-young or Marouane Chamakh, certainly. But there are understandable fears from Arsenal fans that Podolski may be replacing their captain and the PFA and FWA player of the season, who has just one year left on his contract and is subject to interest from Manchester City and Juventus.

For Arsenal's final games of the season, at home to Norwich City on Saturday and then away at West Bromwich Albion on 13 May, they will be without midfielder Abou Diaby, who suffered a thigh strain while on as a substitute in last weekend's draw at Stoke City.