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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn