Reports surfaced today that Arsenal had completed a deal to bring Cologne striker Lukas Podolski to the Emirates Stadium for a fee believed to be around £10.9 million.
With the German forward’s long flirtation with Arsenal seemingly at an end, GMF is here to track the career of the man charged with shouldering the goal scoring load alongside Robin van Persie.
Immediate impact at Cologne
Podolski broke into his home-town team as a teenager and made an immediate impact, claiming ten goals in his first 19 games for the club, marking a new club record for an 18-year-old player.
Despite his immediate impact, Cologne were beset by financial troubles and were relegated, and although Podolski remained with them even after his call up to the national side, bigger and better things were destined for the talented youngster.
Breakthrough to the national team
Podolski was shunned by Poland his country of birth, when he first came to prominence - then Poland national coach Pawel Janas said of calls to give Podolski his first cap: "I don't see a reason to call up a player just because he played one or two good matches in the Bundesliga. He's not even a regular starter at his club."
Poland's loss was Germany's gain as they rewarded his excellent form for Cologne with a call up, even keeping him in the set up when he was playing in the lower leagues.
Podolski was in exceptional form during Euro 2008 and finished joint second top scorer behind Spain’s David Villa while providing England fans with a reminder of his talent by scoring against the Three Lions in their 4-1 victory at the 2010 World Cup.
His major international breakthrough came back in 2006 on home soil where he claimed three goals as Germany thrilled their way to the semi-finals of that tournament despite being huge underdogs before falling short against eventual winners Italy. That earned him a move to Bayern Munich...
Failed spell with Bayern Munich
Podolski’s only previous spell with a genuine giant of European football wasn’t the success story he had been hoping for.
Injury and the arrival of Luca Toni meant his first team opportunities were limited and he managed just 15 goals in 71 appearances between 2006 and 2009, while the player himself has admitted he never really felt at home during his spell in Munich
Having played for Bayern and been forced to take a backwards step, Arsenal fans will hope the 26-year-old will return to big club older, wiser and ready for the challenge.
Brief spell on the wing
As a predominantly left footed player – prior to the his effort against Hoffenheim over the weekend, 15 of his 16 league goals have come from his left boot – national team coach Joachim Low attempted to transform Podolski into something of a left winger in order to accommodate his preferred forward partnership of Mario Gomes and Miroslav Klose.
That approach didn’t really pay any dividends, and while he is sometimes deployed out wide and tends to drift, his best role remains playing down the middle.
Return to Cologne
Podolski has been in the form of his life since his return from Bayern Munich, scoring enough goals to convince Arsene Wenger to part with the best part of £11 million for his services.
He may have gone off the boil somewhat recently but 15 goals in his first 14 games this season demonstrates how dangerous he can be in front of goal, while his tendency to drift out to the left should compliment Robin van Persie but may spell trouble for last season’s big transfer, Gervinho.
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