Throughout the calendar year of 2013, Lukas Podolski found himself largely on the sidelines. In the first half of the year, he was dropped from the team and spent most of his time on the substitutes bench. In the latter part, he was predominantly in the treatment room: A bad hamstring injury kept him out of action for more than four months.
Who do Arsenal need more?
Now, according to Shaun Custis of The Sun, the Gunners are preparing to offload Podolski in the current transfer window. According to his report, Arsene Wenger is prepared to offer the left-footed forward in part-exchange for Schalke starlet Julian Draxler.
Custis writes in Wednesday’s newspaper:
ARSENAL have drawn up a £35million package to land Julian Draxler.
The Gunners have offered Schalke £20m plus striker Lukas Podolski for the midfield star. But the Germans snubbed the bid and want the full £37m in cash that is written into the player’s buy-out clause.
Gunners manager Arsene Wenger is ready to let Podolski, 28, go if the deal is right because the German international has never quite fitted into the team after signing for £11m in July 2012.
Podolski is not a through-the-middle striker and Wenger believes he has better players who operate in the supporting role or out wide.
It’s clear Wenger sees Draxler as an important target for Arsenal. However, letting Podolski go at this stage of the season would be madness.
With Theo Walcott out for the rest of the season, Arsenal are desperately short of prolific goalscorers. There is a significant gap between the scoring contribution of Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey and the rest of the Arsenal squad.
Neither Yaya Sanogo nor Nicklas Bendtner have the pedigree to suggest they will add significantly to the Gunners' goal tally.
Draxler, meanwhile, is hardly setting the goalscoring charts alight in the Bundesliga. According to WhoScored, the youngster has just four goals in 20 appearances for Schalke this season.
In front of goal, Podolski can be deadly. Last season, he scored 11 goals in just 33 appearances.
Wenger acknowledges the precise nature of Podolski’s finishing. Speaking to Arsenal.com after the recent victory over Fulham, the Frenchman said, “If he is in front of goal and you give him one chance, you score with him. He doesn’t hit it in the stand.”
Wenger is right: There is no player in the Arsenal squad you’d rather see a chance fall to. Podolski’s composure and shooting technique are second to few. Allowing him to leave now, especially without signing another conventional goal-getter, could prove hugely detrimental to Arsenal’s title challenge.
The summer is a different matter. If Podolski continues to be used primarily as a substitute, he may seek pastures new. He will have the shop window of a World Cup in which to advertise his services, and Arsenal will be able to take the necessary time to find a suitable replacement.
Podolski may be gone by next season. However, he still has a significant contribution to make in this campaign. Ideally, Arsenal would have both Podolski and Draxler at their disposal as they continue their quest for the title.