Podolski move shows Wenger's change of policy

Interest in the Germany striker demonstrates how Arsenal are past gambling on players with potential

The likely summer arrival of Germany international striker Lukas Podolski from FC Köln marks a continuation in Arsenal's altered transfer strategy. The 26-year-old, set to sign a four-year contract in the summer in a £10.9m deal, might just represent the peak of the change from the north London club buying potentially useful players to those who can make an instant impact.

Arsenal will have bought a very serious player indeed. A man with 95 German caps, an important part of one of best international sides of recent years, with Champions League experience, a Bundesliga winners' medal, talent, confidence, strength and none of the unreliability, callowness or simple physical flimsiness which so often characterises Arsène Wenger's purchases.

The change dates back to last summer. A late-season collapse in form was followed by the departures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and a stripped-down Arsenal side was exposed as such in the humiliating 8-2 defeat at Manchester United in August.

Wenger admitted that his team needed more experience, if only for the benefit of his youngsters. "When you experienced what we did [at Old Trafford] and we only have players without experience to come on," he said at the time, "in a situation like that you don't even help the young players."

With Arsenal's better players concerned about the direction of the club, Wenger knew he had to assuage them. "They could be a little bit worried about our ambition," he admitted, "because they see big players moving out and not big players coming in."

And so the first wave of reinforcements arrived at the end of the transfer window: Mikel Arteta, Andre Santos and Per Mertesacker, whose inviting text messages to Podolski may have helped to convince his Germany team-mate that Arsenal would be a good stage for him.

Podolski will certainly be keen to get this move right. His career so far has been a story of promise and excellence both for Germany and for hometown club FC Köln, interrupted only by three frustrating seasons at Bayern Munich.

Born in Gliwice in Poland in 1985, four months before a player with whom he is often compared, Wayne Rooney, the Podolski family moved near Cologne when he was two, and he emerged for the club in the 2003-04 season. Like Rooney, he was a swaggering, bullish, powerful young striker, sometimes with more energy than he needed, but he always thrilled with the chance of storming past those older and less fearless than him. He made his Germany debut two days after his 19th birthday.

Unsurprisingly, the fans loved him and he loved them. Podolski emerged to a global audience in the 2006 World Cup, in which Jürgen Klinsmann's Germany reached the semi-finals. Podolski, 21, impressed with his low-slung power, scoring three goals and winning the young player of the tournament award.

A painful move from Köln to Bayern Munich followed: Podolski was part of a Bundesliga-winning side and experienced the Champions League, but in three frustrating seasons he never reached the same level of importance he did on the banks of the Rhine. So, in 2009, "Prinz Poldi" returned. His first season back was good, his second better – with 13 league goals, and in this one he has been excellent again. With 16 in the Bundesliga, only Mario Gomez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar have scored more.

The returned confidence was best observed in the 2010 World Cup. Stationed on the left of Joachim Löw's 4-2-3-1, he burst inside from the wing, surprising England as he scored the second in the infamous 4-1 mauling in Bloemfontein. Podolski could very comfortably play the same role at Arsenal: he is more accomplished and more reliable than Gervinho.

He may, of course, be asked to play centre-forward, should Robin van Persie not be there next season, although there is increasing confidence that the captain still stay. The prospect of the pair of them combining, in an Arsenal side based on actual rather than potential usefulness, is certainly an enticing one.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
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

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015