After weeks of speculation, press conferences and ill-timed Instagram posts, Lukas Podolski has left the Arsenal to join Inter Milan. It would be naive to believe -considering Podolski’s age and the current state of affairs between himself and Wenger – that he will return to North London at the end of the loan. Therefore there’s good reason to believe that unless there is a change in management it is unlikely Podolski will feature in another competitive game for Arsenal.
“Please know my heart always holds a place for you. I loved every minute playing for Arsenal & I hope I have left my mark on the club & fans alike” are not the words of a man who sees himself returning to the club.
As with anything in football there will be one camp that are immediately glad the man is off while another camp will be immediately saddened. Both camps have their merits. Podolski is a cheerful and charismatic character to have at any club. It’s difficult to not look at Podolski’s large grin and not be happy. His empathy with the fans makes him an instant crowd pleaser. On the pitch he’s been criticised for having a low work ethic and low effectiveness defensively. More so his contribution to build up play is disappointingly one-dimensional. From a tactical point of view, Podolski only strength is his – albeit deadly – left boot and decent crossing ability. Unfortunately, not enough to cement him a regular starting place in the current Arsenal system.
It’s difficult to criticise Podolski for wanting to leave in January. It’s no secret Poldi was expected to leave in the last transfer window until his transfer was blocked due to the absence of Giroud through injury. He’s a full German international that’s spent the better part of the last season, keeping the bench warm alongside youngsters that only have a handful of first team appearances between them. The worrying thing for him may also be that even when he does perform well in the limited playing time he has received, he still wasn’t afforded a chance in subsequent games. It seemed he was fighting a losing battle from the beginning of the season.
A move for Podolski is beneficial for both player and club. While allowing him to regain his best form and make a case for himself to start or the German national team, it allows Arsenal to get a reported £107,000 fringe player of the books for the time being. Allowing him to leave opens up the door to squad additions and for that same wage bill bring in someone who can provide a more relevant contribution in the current system. Potentially, this move could pave the way for the defensive midfielder Arsenal fans have been begging for, or it could go towards financing the move for a more high profile and tested finisher to compete with and potentially replace Giroud.
Podolski will be sorely missed on a sentimental level and has hints of the Arshavin move but none can substantially disagree that on a purely footballing level this move makes sense. However, there is the possibility of a return. The reality that the move is just a loan and the nature in which the sands of football are constantly changing mean this may not be the last we see of Lukas Podolski playing in the red and white of Arsenal.