It caused a stir amongst Arsenal fans that, instead of signing a player, Wenger’s first action in the January transfer window was to ship Lukas Podolski out on loan. At the time, it seemed a very bad decision as the World Cup winner was statistically the best finisher at the club and the feeling was the manager never gave him enough time to show what he could do.
Fast forward a month and what do we have? A team that looks much more balanced in attack and in defence, with no players giving “street fight” interviews and a team that looks like nobody is being missed. What’s more, while Sanogo has managed to score a goal that has put Crystal Palace into the fifth round of the FA Cup, Podolski has made six appearances for Inter, starting four, with Inter winning just two of those, with no goals for Poldi.
It doesn’t end there. Goal reports that Mancini has gone with Xherdan Shaqiri as the one to add to his Europa League squad, leaving Podolski out in the cold in a click that includes Southampton’s hot-head striker, Dani Osvaldo. In other words, his three goals with Arsenal in the Group Stages of the Champions League will be his last in Europe for this season.
Which brings up the inevitable question as to whether Wenger has been proven right in his decision to let go of the agitating German? Quite rightly, no manager wants to have a player who is happy not to be playing but what every manager wants as well is one who shows enough whenever he plays to warrant being given more chances and while you may not exactly say Podolski failed in that aspect, you won’t win if you compared him to the likes of Tomas Rosicky or Francis Coquelin. the Galatasaray game aside, there was not a proper game in which Podolski showed as much fight as deserving of a regular place in the team.
Maybe now, having seen a different manager prefer someone else to him, he will want to admit to the fact that some players are really offering more than he does and in that sense, try to improve himself. It was the 1990 World Cup winning captain, Lothar Mathaus, who had made the observation of Poldi not being willing to make an acceptance of his abilities and fight for his place in a team, rather than choose to take flight with every given competition.
Maybe he will realize that Wenger actually does not have any umbrage with him but simply had chosen Alexis, Welbeck, Giroud, and Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of him because they offered more to the team. It does look unlikely that he will return on the first of July, and I doubt that he still has as much bereaving mourners now as at his loan departure. But if he makes up his mind to show the real “street fighter” in him, it must begin from accepting his place in a team, and working hard to elevate it.
Loan spells provide periods of hard lessons, and you either profit from them like the Coquelins, or lose your way, like the Bendtners.
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