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Podolski: where will he play, and what does it all mean for Arsenal?

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Analysis of Podolski’s Impending Transfer

-by Mark Ibrahim

Various newspapers throughout Europe are reporting that Lukas Podolski will move to Arsenal this summer for a transfer fee of £10.9m. It is believed that he has already signed a 4-year contract for a salary of £100,000-a-week. Now, I usually take all transfer news with a huge lump of salt until it has been confirmed by either party but the following evidence is enough to convince me that this is, in fact, a done deal.

EVIDENCE THAT THE DEAL IS DONE

Just last weekend, former Bayer Leverkusen manager Reiner Calmund was quoted as saying there’s a “90 per cent chance” Podolski will join the Gunners this summer. “I would bet a fortune on it! I talked with Lukas during the carnival. He is fixated on clubs in England, and I believe that there is a 90 per cent chance that he will move to Arsenal”.

A few days after, Per Mertesacker told Sky news that “He [Podolski] has shown a lot of interest in recent weeks and has sent me a text message… As you can imagine, I’ve told him positive things… I have written to him, though, to tell him how well he can do here and what a great club it is. I think it [the transfer] can happen.”

The most telling comments however came while Per was speaking to Sky yesterday. With the subtlety of hammer, he proclaimed, “I think time will bring clarity… But I’m not a teammate of Lukas Podolski… yet”.

Watch the interview here: http://www.skysports.com/video/inline/0,,16429_7579921,00.html

LOOKING AT THE MONEY

In this market, it would be an understatement to say that 10.9 million pounds is a very good price for a striker of Podolski’s pedigree.  The fact that he is only 26 years old and a seasoned international makes this a prudent buy.  However, Arsenal are paying a lot more for his services than it may at first seem. If his contract is, in fact, for £100,000-a-week, that means he will be earning £5 million-a-year, or £20 million over the course of 4 years.  That totals to £30 million excluding Agent fees & bonuses. Even so, that is still far less than his market value.

The real point of interest here is that it signals a change of approach by Arsenal board.  To put in perspective Arsenal highest ever paid player was Cesc Fabregas who was earning approx. £110,000-a-week.  What’s more is that our current captain Robin Van Persie (who most would agree is values higher) is on £70,000-a-week. Bearing this in mind, Podolski’s wages are quite high by Arsenal’s standards.

So what?  Well, it is believed that Arsene has from 40-50 at his disposal for the summer.  This buy, along with the fact that RVP will be getting a massive salary increase on his new contract, means that there will be little money left for other transfer options.  Of course IF we are able to sell/terminate some of our less deserving players (crossing fingers) Wenger will have additional funds.  That however is a big if and they will have to wait until said players are sold first before attempting to use the money freed.

END RESULT: it is unlikely that we be able to sign any other big name players such as a Hazard or Vertonghen.

Now, let’s have a look at the compilation I made of Podolski’s career stats below.

PERSONAL STATS

A. German National Team  (Autumn ’04 → present):

Goals = 40; Assists = 9; Games Started = 73; Games Sub’d = 17; Games/Goal = 2.25; Games/Assist = 10

B. 1st Stint @ FC Koln (Fall ’03 → Spring ’06):

Goals = 22; Assists = 0; Games Started = 47; Games Sub’d = 3; Games/Goal = 2.27;

C. Bayern Munchen (Fall ’06 → Spring ’09):

Goals = 30; Assists = 15; Games Started = 50; Games Sub’d = 48; Games/Goal = 3.26; Games/Assist = 6.53

D. 2nd Stint @ FC Koln (Fall ’09 → Present):

Goals = 33; Assists = 16; Games Started = 85; Games Sub’d = 2; Games/Goal = 2.63; Games/Assist = 5.44;

Shots Taken = 227; Shots on Target = 82; %Shots on Target = 36%; %Shots leading to Goals = 14.5%

MY CONCLUSIONS

PROS:

-This move is a welcome change from the board. Buying Podolski is clearly aimed at convincing RVP and  the football world that the club does have some ambition left in it

-We need another striker. Podolski is young, looks hungry to get another chance at proving himself at the elite club level, and is a proven goal-scorer. Even at Bayern his stats show that he yielded a good return.

CONS/POSSIBLE CONS:

The stats may flatter Podolski:

1) He is the head honcho at FC Koln. This means everyone tries to get the ball to him and he takes all the penalty kicks and set pieces.  I couldn’t find how many of his goals actually came from open play.  At Arsenal, he will not be the head man but another member of the team. I wonder if he will still be able to be as productive

2) He is left-footed like RVP.  Now, I’m not sure what Wenger is planning but I hope he gets his tactics right with Podolski. I hope he doesn’t alternate b/w RVP & Podolski up front without ever playing them together.  More importantly, I HOPE TO GOD HE DOESN’T TRY TO MAKE HIM INTO A WINGER like he did with AA.  I know he’s played on the flank before but that’s not where he’s strongest. If Wenger isn’t stubborn enough perhaps he could play him as the CF with RVP as the false 9 or play them together in a 4-4-2.

3) I know some of you must be thinking, “is he going to be RVP’s replacement?”  For me this isn’t a con, because I don’t believe RVP will leave us. He is our captain and he loves the Arsenal. I think RVP is loyal and he won’t forget how Wenger stuck with him through all his injury-ridden years.  In fact, I think this buy is in large part to placate him and the fans (they’re selling next year’s tickets right now).

MY VERDICT: A bit of a gamble Wenger is taking here, given the money involved, other great strikers available, and his previous failure to thrive on the big club stage. In the end, I do think it is one worth taking so long as he is used properly.

——————————————

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35 comments to Podolski: where will he play, and what does it all mean for Arsenal?

  • ClockEndRider

    I wouldn’t take too much from the fact that Podolski may play as a “winger”. Given we adopt a similar approach to Barcelona, this hasn’t stopped Villa and Pedro from scoring and playing well. In addition, if he has any workrate at all, it will be a significant advantage over Arshavin. Hope the transfer is true. Looking forward to seeing some real quali helping out RVP.
    Also, th transfer wil be funded at least in pa by offloading Chamakh and Arshavin. Can’t see how those two combined wont be sold for 11 m. Further their salaries combined may well be more than the 100k quoted. So net possibly the only real outflow may be the agents fees.

  • legolas still trust Wenger

    Question please if we moved to 4-4-2 where can gervinho & walcott plays ? gervinho is a RW but in a formation 4-4-2 i guess the RM and LM has a role defensively maybe i am wrong am not expert but can someone explain ? please thanks though i would welcome 4-4-2 a CF RVP and ST Podolski

  • Mandy dodd

    Hope we do get him. Not sure the event of signing him would have to stop us signing top players, as we could well lose one or two main players, and no, I am not talking vp here.
    Depending on who does or does not go, and fitness of current squad players, I fully expect us to land a top French mf, though gotze and hazard may well be out of our price range, unless we did sell big. Also keep hearing about Mathias Suarez , just hope he is not a cheating racist like his surnamesake

  • legolas still trust Wenger

    ClockEndRider ur so right selling chamakh and arshavin with salaries could buy us easily Podolski.
    we still need to sell : Scquillacci , Park , Vela , Bendtner, Denilson they can be added to the 55 M that we will have . i hope next season we bounce back to top . though i am really optimistic

  • rellends

    it’s an absolutely sensational signing. sure, his record at munich was not great but 43 goals in 95 games at international level speaks for itself. i’ll only believe it when i see him holding up the scarf at the press conference but, unlike other transfer tittle-tattle, there is too much noise coming out of reputable sources such as bild zeitung, bbc etc etc. next step is to clear out the dross even if it means taking a financial hit on rubbish such as bendtner, squillachi and arshavin. i think this is a massive statement of intent from the club and bodes well for the future.

  • Thiazi

    I’m not certain you can count 4 years worth of salary and say it is eating up the transfer budget. The wages are in effect ammortized over the course of the contracts and will be accounted for as such. The same is possibly true of the transfer fee itself with regards to the p&l account. I don’t know quite how arsenal account for their transfers (I should really read the annual report) but the media and to some extent bloggers’ fascination with quoting a definite transfer budget is overly simplistic.

    On a less pedantic note, podolski seems like a good sign of intent by arsene which will hopefully persuade others to stay at the club

  • DR

    I’d be interested to hear what other great strikers are available for this kind of money, not doubting the veracity of the statement but I can’t think of any on a similar level that we can afford i.e. experienced, talented and (seemingly) driven to step up to this level.

  • ducats

    So you’re saying that a 10 million pound purchase and upping RVPs salary takes care of the entire transfer kitty that is at Wenger’s disposal? I would agree with this if we had to pay everything up front to those players, but it’s spread out over a four or five year period. Surely there are more funds to spend. I really think with one more superstar signing perhaps M’Villa? we would be unstoppable next year.

  • I believe the key element in this is that at one time Mr Wenger did believe that Uefa would enforce the Financial Fair Play rules, and that therefore the spending spree of PSG, Man City and Chelsea would stop. But listening to him now I think that is no longer the case, and therefore he has convinced the board that he must change his approach.

    Whereas before it was easy to pick up young players because our world wide scouting system was unmatchable, now if we spot a player the club usually goes to Man City or PSG and says, “Arsenal wants him, he must be good.”

    So our choices are limited, and the new team will be a mix of top players and up and coming youngsters. We still do have youngsters (Chamberlain, Coquelin, Jenkinson, Wilshere, Ramsey, Frimpong) but the pressures on them in terms of injury are horrific, so we need an even bigger squad.

    Several players out (the obviously ones have been quoted above) and several purchases of this type in, would be my guess.

  • bc

    The formation is unimportant its getting the players to understand their roles and responsibilities that are impoftant. whether its 442 433 451 352 4132 or 4231 the players must know their offensive and defensive roles. if it has to be rigid i think 4132 would suit us best with a proper dm allowing the full backs to get forward and give us width. walcott gervinho chamberlain can all play in the 3 as a more offensive team as could arteta wilshire and ramsey in a slivhtly more dfensive 3 walcott gervinho chamberlain could also play the front 2 as well.

  • zdzis

    I also think wages aren’t included in the reported transfer budget. It makes little sense. By this token, a transfer budget of 40-50 can only ever bring one world class player. Imagine picking Hazard for the 35m Lille reportedly demand: add to this his wage bill for the course of 4 years (at least!) and you’re already deep in the red. If you look at Arsenal’s last season’s transfers, you’ll see that the club has (reportedly) spent over 50m on 8 new players. If you apply a median wage of, say, 25k per person (quite likely; Gervinho, Mertesacker and Park are seasoned internationals, Arteta and Santos are reliable candidates for their national teams), you get 200k a week for the bunch, which translates into 10m a year, and then into 40m over the course of their contracts – i.e. Arsenal have spent almost 100m! No, it doesn’t make sense, even if it would help us account for the supposed “secret transfer stash” Ivan mentions from time to time 🙂
    As for other transfers, I don’t think either Vertonghen or Hazard are actually actively courted by Arsenal right now; if so, I still don’t expect them to come. The reason is simple – despite their being highly talented, you can grab similar talent elsewhere for a fraction of the price. Plus, both feature in positions where Wenger has some comfort for the future. If, by any chance, any of the highly priced players touted to arrive at Emirates makes the move, it would most likely be Hazard or someone like him – a cretive player who can play all across the midfield and presumably also in attack. We can see where Wenger’s going, buying Chamberlain, Gervinho, and now Podolski, and that’s toward flexibility. I think the goal is to be able to mix the players from the midfield and the attack in any possible combination – the left going right, the center going left, the striker pulling back… This gives the team a momentum necessary to beat the most resilient defences. With players of Podolski’s caliber, that’s a likely outcome.
    Gimme more! 🙂

  • Rich_Fryer

    I think what I like most about what I’ve heard so far, and obviously this must be taken with a pinch of salt, but it seems he chose Arsenal because he wants to develop as a player and play for a ‘footballing’ team. Turning down the big money of China he would seem to want to play for us, he’s not here for the money or fame.

  • Jerry

    In the cons, I don’t think the 2nd one is really a con. He is a better player than Arshavin (even in Arshavin’s prime). He has the experience and ability to play throughout the front line and even attacking midfielder, all positions he has played in the past. Our formation is 4-3-3 but it’s not a strict one, it changes throughout the game with players switching positions throughout the game. Even if Podolski starts on the wing, he’ll end up in the middle many times throughout the game, and well RVP is a true captain and will be able to hold that front line together, like he has this year!

  • Wooby

    I believe Podolski has played on the wing on the German National team, which I believe uses a 4-2-3-1 system with Klose / Gomez as the lone striker supported by Podolski – Ozil – Muller. Even though we currently play a 4-3-3 I think Wenger maybe modifying and moving to the 4-2-3-1. I suspect RVP will stay up front 1) because he has proven himself and 2) I think as a CF/striker, he may not have to do as much running as out on the wing or in the middle of the pitch to reduce the chances of injury.

  • rusty

    Are we assuming he’s a straight replacement for Arshavin for “home-grown” rule purposes?

  • AMWBH

    This is not a “gamble”. But it’s a very good business.

    1. Pod is not a replacement for Van Persie. Immediately anyway.

    2. Pod is a replacement for I believe Walcott.

    3. Arsenal has very good wingers coming through and they are not a huge gap in age btw Walcott and them. Pod is older and can give more experiences tHe younger players.

    4. Walcott cannot improve anymore then he is now.

    5. I believe there will be one more signing and it will be a defensive mf. And if Wiltshire doesn’t look good then a create mf.

    6. If chmack goes then a tall center forward will come in.

    Van Persie will not go anywhere cos by the time his contract ends he will be 30/31. Not clubs will pay a striker 150k a week for 3 years at that age.

    VAN PETSIE I BELIEVE WILL EVENTUALLY REVERT TO THE BETGKAM ROLE WHEN HE GETS OLDER.

  • Mandy dodd

    The good thing is, if we get him, he will strike fear into the likes of terry, rio, Barry, lampard after what he and his German team mates once did to them,

  • Rusty – I don’t think we have had a problem with the home grown problem since it started.

    Some of our squad are obvious home growns like Chamerlain, Walcott, Frimpong, Ramsey, Wilshere, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Yennaris.

    Others are homegrown because of the time with us during their youth. I am not sure of who (although we did a review of this last summer and the summer before) but I think Song, Djourou, Coquelin, Miquel, Ozyakup all count.

    It will be tighter than before, because we used to have so many under 21s, but there’s one more thought. We always have at least one young player join the first team each year. And such players are always home grown.

  • Tee Song

    Podolski, if he comes, would fit in perfectly well wide left in Arsenal’s version of 4-3-3. People need to stop looking at formation and player position in such a rigid fashion. The key is whether a player has the necessary skills to play a certain role for the team. Arsene has never valued wide players who can only beat the fullback outside and whip in a cross, the traditional “English” winger in a 4-4-2. He’s always wanted wide players who can beat a defender inside or outside, participate in a short passing game, who can create goals with an incisive pass, and who have an eye for goal themselves. It requires a player with the close dribbling control and burst of pace to beat a defnder, passing range and vision, and a good shot. Sounds a lot like Andrei Arshavin to me.

    In my opinion, Andrei was never played “out of position.” He had the necessary skills to play the position that Wenger asked of him. Johan Djourou, as an emergency right back, was played out of position. He doesn’t have the necessary quickness, close control, one on one defending ability, or passing range to be a fullback in ARSENE’s system. For a team like Stoke, he could play right back, not Arsenal. And I’m not begrudging his effort because he was forced to play right back due to injuries to other players.

    Arsene has a pretty darn good track of evaluating a player and fnding a position, in his system, that said player can thrive in even if it’s not that players original position. Moving Theirry Henry from winger to centre forward, Kolo Toure from midfield to central defense, and RvP from winger/withdrawn forward to out and out centre forward were pretty successful moves if you ask me. For Arshavin, the difference was that he never bought into the move. I think Andrei preferred playing as an in the hole striker and wasn’t going to be truly happy unless he played there. Andrei thought he was being played out of position, and therefore he was played out of position.

    David Villa played centrally for Valencia and plays centrally for Spain but was moved wide left for Barca. It hasn’t stopped him from being a an excellent player for Barca. From what I’ve seen of Podolski, he has the necessary skills to make a similar transition. For me his signing would be almost perfect. A forward who can play across the front of Arsenal’s front three. He could start most games with RvP out wide and be an excellent reserve centre forward when needed. The key will be his attitude and if he accepts Wenger’s vision of his best position.

  • The Don

    First of all
    wenger will not change to a 4-4-2
    about every club uses the 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 as it turn to when the team attacks.

    podolzki is a goal scorer his not a type his has a bag full of tricks but he know where the net is and he can get power when he shots.

    i think he will play on the left wing.

    podolski player there for the german team and he dose very very well there. but am sure he will also get chances to play as the pain attacker.

    the important thing is that we have this kind of players.

    look at the past and this season we have been short in attack and wingers. walcott has had to play in about every game, and we have only had chambelin and gervinho who lets be honest has been below par.

    sagna..koss..verm..santos

    …..song..wilshire…….

    ……….alex………..

    walcott………..podolzki

    ……v perise………….

  • Damien Luu

    Haha, they say he turned down a £40M offer from Anzhi Makhachkala to join us, folks. If true than it becomes really sweeter, doesn’t it? 😀

    It shows there are still some players who are different to mr.na$ri

    http://www.express.co.uk/football/view/306998/Lukas-Podolski-My-40m-sacrifice-

  • Damien Luu

    @Tee Song: Totally agree with you. And don’t you worry about “his attitude and if he accepts Wenger’s vision of his best position.” He comes for Arsene’s guidance I believe.

  • Gord

    I don’t think anyone should assume that Arshavin is on the way out, because he is currently on loan to Zenit. Arshavin needed to get more playing time before Euro-2012, and this was one way Wenger could get Arshavin that additional playing time needed so that he could best perform for Russia.

  • Notoverthehill

    In view of the way Mr Gazidis explodes his bullet points with his financial acumen, one fact is certain!
    Mr Robin van Persie w.e.f. 1st August 2011, had his contract amended to Salary per week well in excess of £100,000 per week.

    ALL the evidence suggests that a Mr Henry in his final year at The Arsenal, was earning in the region of £125,000 per week.

    The writer needs to improve on his research!

  • Notoverthehill

    Tony, I forgot to congratulate you on congratulating andersred.blog!

  • bob

    Tony,
    I think that Arsene’s de facto holding UEFA’s feet to the fire on FFP is a large part of what’s been at the root of their mutual animus (still being played out on the pitch). A hypocrite hates anyone who remembers and is capable of reminding others about the hypocrisy. It does appear that waiting for the FFP is like waiting for Godot and Arsene will have done the blend of youth and pricey (but not bankrupting) talent that can still compete at any level.

  • RobL

    @ Bob, I have to disagree, FFP has not given me the urge to chew my own arm off whereas waiting for Godot did…

    @ the posters who thought that salaries were not part of the transfer budget, I pretty sure last year the board admitted they were when pressed. Also from a business point of view it makes sense as you would have a 5 year plan.

  • ak47

    great stuff. the attacking options are now one hazard short of being ridiculous.
    go on then. throw mvila in there too if diaby cannot recover. though i hope he does.

    the blend of youth and experience is coming along nicely.

    fate i dare you give us a fit squad for next season. i dare you!

  • goonergerry

    I presume that you think that the transfer of Podolski is a done deal-without knowing-and there seem to be some solid basis to the rumours. How do you know what his salary is? Salaries are usually fairly complicated to work out and include things like image rights and in the past off-shore accounts. Are you not just repeating a rumour here?

    If Podolskis alleged salary ends up being as high as what you say-there may be a change in policy-and that is that new players will be paid at the top salary level. Apart from Campbell who came on a free or Arshavin on 4m per year I can’t think of any others who were top earners when they joined. Arsenal have in the past given a succession of players salary increases in an attempt to keep them at the club-and it hasn’t always worked-Henry, Fabregas, Vieira, Adebayor subsequently encouraged interest from top foreign clubs after receiving substantial hikes in salary. If it is a change of policy then I agree with it if it enables us to strengthen the team.
    Lets face it-Arsenal can afford to let a few non-performing players go-some of those loaned out are on very good money to pay for this.

    I understand that during his last year at Arsenal Thierry Henry’s salary was as Not over says, higher than that of Cesc in his final year at 6m+-though that might have included a loyalty bonus. Cesc is alleged to have foregone this in his desperation to join Barcelona.

  • ak47

    oh or gotze.

  • bjtgooner

    Interesting article.

    Mark you make the point that if we buy Podolski and raise RVP’s wages there may not be much money left for other transfers. I am not too worried about that. I think we only need one additional experienced/talented playmaker to complete the squad.

    These changes together with the very talented young players coming through and the core of the existing squad (which, lest some forget is also very talented) should produce a very fine squad for next season – with more depth to cover injuries etc than we have this season. Fingers crossed we get Podolski and one other!

  • Stuart

    Thiazi

    It is my belief that Arsenal operate by allocating a players wages and transfer fees from the same pot and at the timr the player is bought, the players salary for the full duration of their contract is put aside.

    Please however correct me if I am wrong.

  • Gord

    @Stuart

    I doubt any significant enterprise works with a single pot. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Arsenal was buying positions on foreign currencies, if nothing else to try to reduce volatility in paying fees in currencies other than Pounds Stirling. A single pot is easy for most people to visualize, I doubt it is what Arsenal (or any other team that places in UEFA leagues or has players who also play for other countries) does.

  • Sammy

    What am I hearing here?? SACRILEGE on “Untold Wenger” website!!!!

    First the author quoting that RvP is on just 70k salary and Fabregas was on 110k. Last time I quoted some of these numbers, I had Walter reprimanding me for “quoting numbers without any proof”.

    Even more amazing, the author talking about selling our “less deserving players (fingers/crossed)” and Tony joining in agreement!

    Change of heart from Tony and Walter?

  • Myers

    There is no denying Arsenal do have some less deserving players on the payroll. Players like Almunia, Squillaci, Bendtner, Vela, Denilson, Chamakh and Arshavin. Selling these players could help with the increase wage of RVP and new transfers. Demba Ba with proven premier league goal scoring ability would be a better fit IMO than Podolski for roughly the same transfer fee and probably would demand less wage. Then we can also add Leighton Baines and Jan Vertonghen. In the even that Jack Wilshere does not recover in time we could go for Mario Gotze or Eden Hazard.