Arsenal Might Come to Regret Selling the Efficient Lukas Podolski

James McNicholasFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2014

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MARCH 01:  Lukas Podolski of Arsenal walks out to warm up prior to the Barclays Pemier League match between Stoke City and Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium on March 1, 2014 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Lukas Podolski could be entering the final few months of his Arsenal career. According to John Cross of The Mirror, Inter Milan have already made enquiries about the German forward and are lining up a summer move.

Podolski's agent Nassim Touihri has added fuel to the fire. When asked about Inter's interest, he refused to quash the speculation, instead telling Metro:

At the moment we do not know what will happen in the future.

Inter an interesting club that wants to invest as it has recently also signed Vidic.

Cologne is his heart and his passion. But at the moment it is too early to say where Podolski end of play.

The writing does appear to be on the wall for Lukas Podolski. In the past 12 months, it has become clear that Arsene Wenger’s faith in the striker is far from absolute. He spent most of the second half of last season on the bench, only handed a late reprieve by a suspension for Olivier Giroud.

This season, he was ruled out of several months by a troublesome hamstring problem. However, since making his return, he has failed to command a regular place. Podolski has made just five Premier League starts this season.

That’s the same amount as teenage winger Serge Gnabry and fewer than inexperienced full-back Carl Jenkinson.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Lukas Podolski of Arsenal celebrates victory after the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at Boleyn Ground on December 26, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

The most alarming moment for Podolski would have been the home tie with Bayern Munich. Against his former club, the Germany international would have been desperate to impress. With Olivier Giroud benched over off-field matters, this was surely his opportunity to stake his claim.

However, Wenger instead opted to name the 21-year-old Yaya Sanogo as his central striker. At this point, Sanogo had just one Arsenal start to his name and zero goals. Podolski, veteran of 100 caps, was left on the bench.

It seems Wenger struggles with how best to employ Podolski in his team. His best position appears to be on the left wing, but the Arsenal manager clearly harbours concerns over his work rate and defensive awareness. Podolski’s face doesn’t seem to fit, and a parting of the ways seems inevitable.

However, Wenger should think carefully before cutting his ties with the clinical German. He remains incredibly efficient in front of goal. This season, eight starts have produced six goals. No other Arsenal player has such an impressive ratio.

Should Podolski go, Arsenal will surely struggle to find an alternative squad player with such impressive attributes. He has his flaws, but few Premier League substitutes harbour such goalscoring potential. 

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18:  Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski of Arsenal warm up during a training session at London Colney on February 18, 2014 in St Albans, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Podolski is also an important squad member. He helps knit together the club’s German contingent, and his presence around the team is an effervescent and positive one. His international manager feels the same.

In the foreword to Podolski’s forthcoming book (h/t Sport Witness), Joachim Low writes:

There are people who are happy to support, one of those people is Lukas Podolski.

The fact that I'm a big fan of Lukas Podolski is no secret. Of course he has that direct, disarming, cheerful way, but he is so much more than just the joker in the team, he ensures a good mood.

Podolski might not be cut out for the Arsenal XI. However, Arsene Wenger should think carefully before jettisoning a valuable squad player.

 

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.