England’s friendly with Germany tonight is Lukas Podolski’s farewell match with the National Team. Let’s take a look back at his noteworthy spell at the Emirates.
After enduring the signings of Marouane Chamakh and Chu-Young Park in 2010 and 2011, the signing of Lukas Podolski in the summer of 2012 was a breath of fresh air for Arsenal fans. On the back of stellar season at hometown club 1. FC Köln, Podolski arrived with 100 caps for Germany and a great reputation. The 27-year old was given the number 9 shirt fitting of a player with his goal scoring record.
Podolski started well for the Gunners, scoring and assisting regularly in both the Premier League and the Champions League. Even as Olivier Giroud’s emergence eventually pushed Podolski into a wider role on the left, the German’s positioning and finishing ability enabled him to provide a real goal scoring threat for Arsenal. Memorable goals against Liverpool, Tottenham and Montpellier punctuated an impressive first season in England in which Podolski scored 16 and assisted 11 in all competitions.
Despite an injury interrupted second season with Arsenal, Podolski still managed 8 Premier League goals in just 20 appearances and 3 goals in 4 in Arsenal’s victorious FA Cup campaign. Unfortunately, this would be his last full season at the club.
Podolski, along with Arsenal teammates Mesut Özil and Per Mertesacker, returned from Brazil as world champions. Podolski, however, was unable to continue this momentum as his place in the team was often blocked by new signings Alexis Sánchez and Danny Welbeck. Although he impressed in the Champions League, the forward was unable to get much playing time in the Premier League.
“Of course I am not happy with my situation right now. I can’t be satisfied with that. It is hard when you can’t do what you love.” – Podolski in November 2014
Frustrated by his lack of playing time, Podolski was shipped out to Inter Milan on loan in January. While Podolski was a regular under Roberto Mancini, appearing 18 times, he struggled for form and only scored one goal for the Nerazzurri.
After returning from Inter in the summer it became clear that the club deemed Podolski surplus to requirements and a transfer away beckoned. On July 4, 2015. Podolski’s time at Arsenal was officially over as he signed for Turkish giants Galatasaray.
Lukas Podolski is a truly likeable player who plays with a child-like love for the game. Despite his flaws, he instantly became a fan favorite at Arsenal for his style and effectiveness along with his clear love for the club.
Even if Podolski’s time in London was not a complete success, 31 goals and 13 assists in 82 appearances is a good return for a player who played the vast majority of his Arsenal career out of position. Podolski’s best spells in his career came as part of a strike partnership alongside Miroslav Klose in his early international career and Milivoje Novaković at Köln. Never a lone striker or a natural winger, it speaks to Podolski’s ability and professionalism to have had such a great career despite rarely playing in his best role.
Lukas Podolski will go down as one of modern football’s true greats and biggest personalities. It was a pleasure to watch him in an Arsenal uniform.