There have been a few rumours about Lukas Podolski recently that he might return to Germany or even try his luck in Serie A. The rumours were further fuelled by the fact that he has only started two games since the end of January.
Arsene Wenger was however quick to praise the German after his excellent cameo appearance against Norwich and insists that Podolski is part of Arsenal’s long term plans.
“He is a quality player and when he comes on you can see that straight away. You don’t get 100 caps by luck. Honestly he has a great attitude. He never moans, he never has a bad phase, he is always positive.”
Interestingly Wenger also revealed that he is working with Podolski, who has been playing mainly as a winger this season, as a main striker.
“I think he can play as a central striker as well. I work a lot with him as a central striker at the moment.”
It is an interesting admission and addresses something has baffled Arsenal fans all season. While Olivier Giroud has had a reasonable first term at The Emirates and has scored goals as well as created assists he is far from the clinical finisher that the Gunners fans are craving.
Conversely Podolski seems utterly clinical when he gets the chance and in spite of his limited appearances has managed to score nine goals this season – about one goal per three games.
The problem for Wenger is that Podolski is not really the type of striker who can hold the ball up and feed other players like Giroud. He also can’t rival Walcott, or many other winger/strikers for pace. His big strength appears to be cutting in from the wing and the unleashing very powerful shots. He is however far from being a traditional winger and quite often tends to get lost in games. His tracking back to help Gibbs and Monreal has also been questionable.
So I don’t think that Arsenal have got the best out of the German this season. Maybe next year we will see him playing more as an out and out striker and that is the role Wenger is grooming him for now.
The key for Wenger then is how do you feed the player? And I wonder if the Arsenal manager has a cunning plan for pairing Podolski with Jovetic? Podolski can yet be an Arsenal legend. But I think much depends on Wenger getting the best out of him.