Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Tracking the Latest News on Podolski and Others
It may only be March, but already the Premier League rumour mill is grinding into gear ahead of the summer transfer window. The stories about the future of Arsenal's Lukas Podolski are merely a drop in an ocean of speculation.
Over the next few slides, we take a look at some of the transfer stories in circulation around Arsenal Football Club, concerning both potential signings and sales.
Go to the next page to track the latest on who might be coming and going at the Emirates Stadium this summer.
Lukas Podolski's Future Is Already in Some Doubt
Statistically, Lukas Podolski has enjoyed a fantastic first season in English football. He has managed 12 goals and 10 assists in just 27 starts: a fantastic return for a wide player.
Despite this impressive form, the German forward has seen himself marginalised in recent weeks. With Arsene Wenger adopting a more conservative approach, Podolski has been the man sacrificed and relegated to the substitutes' bench.
The German’s frustration has been matched by that of the fans, who want to see their summer signing unleashed on Premier League defences as frequently as possible.
Although Podolski has been suffering with a long-term ankle problem, there has been a growing sense among supporters that Arsenal's manager has grown reticent to use such a forward-thinking winger at a time when Arsenal have been defensively vulnerable.
It’s interesting that it is during this period out of the team that transfer stories about Podolski’s future have begun to emerge. The player has been linked by The Sun with the likes of Juventus and Atletico Madrid.
Since then, Podolski has moved to deny the rumours. However, the German will know his hand has been strengthened by these transfer stories.
Podolski will hope the rumoured interest will serve to remind Arsene Wenger of his calibre, and prompt an immediate recall to the Arsenal side. Podolski will want to be starting games regularly, ideally in the Champions League, if he is to commit his long-term future to the club.
The amount he is picked between now and May, as well as Arsenal's success in overhauling Tottenham, will define Podolski's destiny.
Per Mertesacker Is Set to Stay
If there is some doubt over Lukas Podolski's long-term future, his compatriot Per Mertesacker seems comparatively settled in to London life.
While Podolski has been in and out of the team this season, Mertesacker has been Arsenal's most consistent centre-back. Come the summer, Arsene Wenger will most likely look to find a partner for the gentle German giant, who has repeatedly professed his desire to remain with the Gunners.
That will be music to the ears of the Arsenal fan.
Johan Djourou Could Stay in Germany
Johan Djourou's consultant Marco Lichtsteiner has told German newspaper Bild:
Johan and his family feel very comfortable in Hanover 96. The project fits well with him. In the coming days there will be a meeting with Mr Schmadtke [Jörg Schmadtke - athletic director for Hannover 96].
There will surely be changes in the Arsenal defence this summer: Sebastien Squillaci seems likely to leave on a free transfer, while there are also rumours that Thomas Vermaelen could be sold to Barcelona.
Arsene Wenger will have to decide whether he can find a place for Johan Djourou in his squad for next season. He would be loathe to lose the Swiss defender permanently, but he may decide he simply can't offer Djourou the first-team football he craves.
Andrey Arshavin Is Close to the Exit Door
Andrey Arshavin's exit from Arsenal seems to have been painfully slow.
He's already departed once: he joined Zenit St. Petersburg on loan last season. However, he's now back at the club, albeit in a minimalistic role as an occasional substitute.
Come this summer, Arshavin's contract will expire, and he will finally depart North London. His latest suitors are Azerbaijan-based Khazar Lankaran, who are managed by Liverpool legend and ex-Real Madrid manager John Toshack.
If Arshavin fancies a less drastic change of scenery, perhaps he'll move across London to Fulham. A partnership of Arshavin and Dimitar Berbatov would be very entertaining to watch, if also spectacularly lazy.
Luca Toni Warns Stefan Jovetic off Arsenal
Arsenal's rumoured interest in Fiorentina striker Stefan Jovetic is already well documented. The Gunners were linked with David Villa for most of January, but now it seems Arsene Wenger's eye has been drawn to a more youthful candidate for the striker's berth at Arsenal.
However, this week Jovetic's team-mate Luca Toni has moved to warn Jovetic off the Gunners:
I tell him to think carefully before leaving Florence, as there is an important project here.
If he has to leave, then make it for a real top club.
Toni's words will certainly give Jovetic food for thought.
With Fiorentina currently in fourth place in Serie A, Jovetic will certainly want to wait until the end of the season and the confirmation of which sides have qualified for the Champions League to decide where his future lies.