Arsenal lay down marker with Podolski signing

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Arsene Wenger, it would appear, is already making plans for the summer transfer window and Arsenal's first closed season signing is seemingly already in the bag.

It has been widely reported that the Gunners have agreed a deal close to £11 million to secure the services of Lukas Podolski from Cologne in order to bolster their goalscoring options.

The 26-year-old German striker has been in fine form this season, having netted 17 times in 22 appearances for club and country.

However, perhaps the most striking thing about Podolski's proposed move from the North Rhine-Westphalia to north London is the salary he will supposedly receive as an Arsenal player.

According to various reports, Podolski has agreed a four-year deal with the Gunners, and will earn £100,000-per-week over the course of his contract.

This would make the Germany international the highest paid player at the club, and perhaps demonstrates a willingness from the Arsenal board to be more flexible in contract negotiations.

Arsenal are renowned for employing a relatively rigid wage structure to support their admirable self-sustaining model, but reluctance to compete in the transfer market has seen them left behind.

This is often more down to the frugality of Arsene Wenger rather than lack of financial backing from the Arsenal board, and the signing of Podolski may well lay down a marker for the future.

Prior to any agreement with Podolski, the Gunners were already planning to offer Robin van Persie a significant salary increase in the hope of keeping him at the club, while Theo Walcott is also reported to be in line for a pay rise.

Arsenal have often shown margin for movement when it comes to their most important players, and both Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabregas were on significant contracts prior to leaving the Emirates Stadium.

But is is the apparent alteration in mentality when it comes to the acquisition of new players that could prove to be a vital move in seeing Arsenal keep relative pace with the biggest spenders both domestically and on the continent.

After years of exemplary financial management, the Gunners are now able to reap the reward of their actions by investing more heavily than ever before, without the risk of upsetting the self-sustaining model.

The club's board have already shown a commitment to investing in their playing staff, and last year's annual accounts showed the wage bill was up some 12.4 percent to £124.4 million.

And with a huge rise in profit reported last month, this summer could herald a change in philosophy from Wenger in the transfer market; something that would appease the majority of fans.

However, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis was quick to point out to supporters that not all cash can be spent on the signing of new recruits.

"It's important to understand that not all that money's available to invest in transfers," he said at the time.

"We have running costs of the club, player salaries and so on, so that amount goes down during the year. We also have to keep something in reserve in case things don't go our way."

Of course, qualifying for next season's Champions League will be an imperative bargaining tool for Arsenal when they approach summer transfer business, but signing for the club already appears to be a more attractive proposition.

And, with the likes of Mario Gotze and Eden Hazard reportedly on Wenger's radar, the next transfer window could prove to be the most memorable in his 16-year tenure.

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