The Scout

Lukaz Podolski Joins Arsenal

When Arsenal officially announced the capture of Lucas Podolski from FC Cologne on a long-term deal, it caused a lot of interest at Fantasy Towers. Arsene Wenger admitted a few weeks ago he planned to tie up his transfer dealings prior to the Euro 2012 summer tournament and has been true to his word, snapping up the services of the long-term Gunners target for an undisclosed fee. Despite his club sitting in third bottom in the Bundesliga at that time, Podolski had been in superb form up front – he was the fourth top scorer in Germany’s top-flight, scoring 18 of his side’s 34 goals at that point. Wenger went on to say:

We are delighted to secure the deal for Lukas and see him as an important part of our future. He is a top-class player, a very good finisher and a proven performer at club and international level. He is a very strong player and will provide us with good attacking options.

THE STATISTICS

Podolski began playing football at the age of six in the youth team of FC Bergheim, where he played until he joined 1. FC Köln in 1995. It was there that Podolski’s talents were first noticed. In 2003, at the age of 18, Podolski was still part of the club’s youth side. At this time the club found itself in dire straits battling to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga. First team boss Marcel Koller, working on a shoestring budget, invited Podolski to train with the senior players and he made his top flight debut shortly afterwards on 22 November 2003. Even though Köln failed to avoid a drop to the 2nd division, Podolski had shown what he could do, scoring 10 goals in his first 19 senior appearances. This was the best tally by an 18-year-old in the history of the Bundesliga.

Though his call up to the German Euro 2004 squad brought along interest from several top clubs, Podolski stayed at Köln to help the club gain promotion in the 2004–05 season. With 24 goals, Podolski advanced to become the league’s best scorer. Somewhat unusually, Podolski remained part of the Germany squad, even though he did not play in the national top-tier league.

In 2006, clubs such as Liverpool F.C., Bayern Munich, Hamburger SV, SV Werder Bremen, and even Real Madrid manifested their interest in Podolski, even though he had a contract with 1. FC Köln through 2007. On 1 June 2006, Podolski announced that a transfer agreement had been reached with Bayern Munich, allowing him to join the Bavarian side for the 2006–07 season. Financial details of the deal were not immediately available, but the transfer fee was speculated to be around €10 million. He made his Bundesliga debut for Bayern on 11 August 2006 with a 2–0 victory against Borussia Dortmund, coming on as a substitute in the 88th minute.

When Bayern bought in Italian striker Luca Toni, “Poldi” was moved down the pecking order and received less playing time due to the coach’s preference to partner Klose and Toni together instead. After a rather unhappy season at Bayern, he returned to former club Köln on 1 July 2009.

THE PROSPECTS

Arsenal were desperate to add some much needed firepower and creativity to their side as they failed to win once (with the exception of the final game of the season) without Mikel Arteta, which underlined how important he became to them.

Judging from his career by numbers, Podolski isn’t “profilic,” but his finishing ability is lethal, nonetheless.

Last season, Arsenal were over-reliant on van Persie, and the Dutch forward did amazingly well to deliver the goals week in and week out with 35 goals in all competitions. Arsenal’s captain played a lot of games by his standards, and the risk of a burn-out or some sort of muscular injury was always looming. The signing of a clinical striker like Podolski will certainly ease the pressure off van Persie, and he’ll be able to get deserved rest in some games.

Finally, Podolski’s inclusion to the team will provide a healthy competition and that extra depth in the forward line. Expect to see Podolski in demand and available around the £9 mark.

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