Lukas Podolski future: Double for Arsenal won't see misfit get a new contract

The German’s struggle to adapt to English football means he is unlikely to get a new deal at Arsenal despite the two crucial goals on Tuesday

The thrill for Lukas Podolski must have worn off rather quickly. He might have felt he had proved something on Tuesday night, as his two goals earned three points which moved Arsenal back up to fourth in the Premier League table. It was the perfect follow-up to his comments on Saturday evening, that he was being under-used by Arsène Wenger and ought to play more.

But Wenger was asked afterwards if this changed anything. Might it launch a new era for Podolski, giving him what he wanted, a role through the middle, either alongside Olivier Giroud or even in place of him? The answer, in Wenger’s own polite way, was no. “I am tempted,” Wenger admitted, when asked about  4-4-2, “but I have so many offensive players who all want to go in the middle.”

Some of them will therefore have to compromise, and Podolski will be moved before the others. “Lukas is the only one [of the attacking players] who is really a wide player. [Tomas] Rosicky is a central player, [Santi] Cazorla is basically a central player, When you do not have [Theo] Walcott it is very difficult [not to use Podolski as a wide player].”

Read more: Jarvis - I should have gone down to win penalty
Five things we learnt at the Emirates
Szczesny says wins 'do not have to be beautiful

What of Podolski superseding Giroud and playing through the middle? “Look, I played him as centre-forward a few times and I thought he came a lot to the ball, more like an ‘off’ striker than a target striker,” said Wenger, before quickly running off Podolski’s strengths unless he looked too critical: “But he is a fantastic finisher because he has unbelievable power and a very short back-lift. The one you want to have a chance is him.”

 

That Podolski is the most natural finisher at Arsenal has never been in doubt. The problem is with the rest of his game. That is why Wenger is so reluctant to play him up front and has put him out on the left instead, to Podolski’s own frustration. That, ultimately, is why Podolski’s Arsenal career has barely got going, almost two years in, and why it might not last for much longer.

This dilemma has never been clearer than it was on Saturday at Wembley, during the FA Cup semi-final after which Podolski poured out his frustrations. He started that game on the left, was barely involved and, after an hour, Wenger decided that they needed more of a direct threat. So Podolski was hauled off for Giroud, who came on to partner Yaya Sanogo in a 4-4-2.

“I felt that we needed some physical presence through the middle,” Wenger explained, “and the only two players who had that are Sanogo and Giroud.”

Lukas Podolski (left)and Wojciech Szczesny of Arsenal celebrate victory over West Ham Lukas Podolski (left)and Wojciech Szczesny of Arsenal celebrate victory over West Ham  

That said more than enough. Podolski is not cut out to play centre-forward for Arsenal. He is not quick enough to run in behind or selfless enough to hold the ball up. The last time he did it was on New Year’s Day, at home against Cardiff City, when Podolski – still on his way back from a four-month injury absence – laboured through 64 minutes leading the line before being replaced by Nicklas Bendtner, who won the game instead. For their next match Walcott went up front, and got injured, before Giroud came back in.

Read more: Arsenal's four remaining fixtures
Wenger hails focus of players
Ozil to return on Sunday

Application, rather than talent, has always been the main difference between Giroud and Podolski, both of whom arrived in the summer of 2012. Giroud has embraced the physical demands of the English game to the point of exhaustion, while Podolski looks as if he is still adjusting.

Back in November 2012, just a few months into Podolski’s Arsenal career, Wenger was attempting to convey why Podolski was finding adjustment so difficult. “He is not used to working at that level of intensity. At [his previous club] Cologne he plays there and says ‘my friends’,” Wenger explained, holding out his arms to demonstrate the unconditional adulation Podolski always received from Cologne fans whatever he did. “So when you come to England it is a shock. In England you have Rooney who works his socks off. Everybody works hard, there is no room for anybody to work less or you do not exist.”

That felt like the root of the issue. Podolski was so used to being the star man at FC Köln, the biggest fish in one of Bundesliga’s smaller ponds, that he had to readjust to the demands of working hard for a successful team. The problem, though, is that Podolski has not yet started to produce the intensity Arsenal would still like from him.

This is why, even on the left wing, he is not exactly the player fans were hoping for. He does not cover his left-back as much as he should, and does not stretch defences like he might going forward. It is little surprise that Wenger has not always trusted him for the big games, when most is demanded of the team. In recent months Podolski was an unused substitute for the big home games against Chelsea and Manchester United in the league, Tottenham and Everton in the cup and Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

It must be exasperating for Podolski, who has 112 full caps for Germany, more than Cristiano Ronaldo has for Portugal. But his record, for club and country, suggests a player who is at his best against the worst. He has scored 17 Premier League goals for Arsenal, but after the first one at Anfield, in September 2012, they have come almost exclusively against unfancied sides: he has four against West Ham, three against Fulham, two against Wigan and the rest against Southampton, Reading, Newcastle, Stoke, Norwich, Swansea and Tottenham.

Lukas Podolski hammers in Arsenal's third Lukas Podolski hammers in Arsenal's third against West Ham  

Even for Germany his 46 goals include four against San Marino, three against South Africa, three against Liechtenstein and so forth. He has scored just four goals since 2010, his last two in a friendly against Ecuador last May, and his place is increasingly under threat from the next generation of fitter, faster German forwards.

But with two years left on his Arsenal contract, Podolski could be forgiven for wondering what he is going to do next. If there was going to be a new Arsenal deal it probably would have come by now.

Even Köln, set to be promoted back to the Bundesliga this summer, are thought not to want a third Podolski spell where he would be, once again, simply too dominant over the town and the club. A mid-table German team or Internazionale are the likeliest options for a player whose time in England has never worked out.

Suggested Topics
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?