Lukas Podolski is a name that even today, most of the footballing community would largely admire for his exploits out on the pitch, and solid nature in the final third. Throughout his career, the Polish-born German international has certainly succeeded in the Bundesliga – and despite not making much of a contribution to his nation’s efforts in Brazil this summer – the 29-year-old nevertheless began the new term as a proud World Cup winner.
Since the passing of the last few seasons however, ‘Poldi’ has barely made a scratch on the European footballing scene. A seemingly forgotten spell with his boyhood club FC Köln was followed by several months’ worth of bench warming at the Emirates, leading to a subsequent loan move to Inter Milan which has so far proved unfruitful.
One single goal in over 15 appearances just doesn’t make good reading for the former Bayern Munich favourite.
When Lukas Podolski’s loan venture in Serie A comes to its conclusion at the end of the season then, does the experienced forward still have something to offer the Gunners going into the new term, or is Arsenal’s somewhat forgotten man already finished at the Emirates in all but name?
Well, when considering what the German international has to offer Arsene Wenger ahead of the 2015/16 campaign, it must be remembered just how much of a positive influence Podolski can have on his day. The problem with the 29-year-old attacker however – is that ‘his day’ just doesn’t seem to crop up frequently enough in the modern era.
In the past, the former Bundesliga favourite proved more than deadly with enough confidence placed in him. His left foot was literally a weapon in front of goal – and in similar style to his German compatriot Thomas Hitzlsperger in the Premier League – the power on offer from Lukas Podolski’s shot really was something to behold and value.
It therefore comes as little surprise that the current Arsenal loanee has scored several well placed long-range efforts throughout his time in European football. It must also be noticed though, that whilst Poldi certainly is the complete striker by any means, the no. 11 can still hold his own physically along the back four, and find space effectively in and around the opposition’s box.
As his recent performances simply haven’t displayed much of this quality of late however, fans of the Premier League may be hard pressed to remember the World Cup winner in such a positive manner. There are nonetheless several important reasons for why this might be the case.
The problem with Podolski is that his preferred position out on the pitch just doesn’t seem to exist a great deal anymore. The powerful front-man is best placed as one of two recognised strikers in a cooperative attack force. He simply doesn’t have the skill-set required to play effectively as a winger or as an attacking midfielder – which not without the want of trying – has been the only role handed to him so far at the Emirates.
The multiple-capped German international equally doesn’t thrive when placed as a solitary centre-forward who has to dominate aerially and aid his teammates with the knock-downs. That simply isn’t his game. Lukas Podolski is in a similar mould to the likes of Michael Owen, Allesandro Del Piero and Raúl after all – he is a finisher first and foremost, and a pretty impressive one at that when played correctly.
As modern footballing trends tend not to favour the classic two-man strike force in today’s current climate though – especially under Arsene Wenger at the Emirates – perhaps the 29-year-old seemingly has no future left in north London in these latter stages of his career. With Arsenal being known for their slick passing skills and interchanging play in the final third, it seems a traditional kind of player like Lukas Podolski was never really the right fit for the Gunners in the first place.
Having said that however, none of this serves to indicate that the current Inter Milan no. 11 is by any means done in European football – on the contrary – the Polish-born star could still in-fact have a lot to give.
He just needs to find the right team for his preferred style of play throughout the coming summer months, and although his time at the Emirates certainly won’t go down as a failure with all things considered, it just seems that Arsenal can no longer be that club for Lukas Podolski.