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
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
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

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices