Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Is Lukas Podolski Good Enough for Arsenal? An In-Depth Scouting Report

There's been a lot of speculation recently that Arsenal are going to sign German striker/attacking midfielder Lukas Podolski in the summer.

I don't have any information to add over whether this deal might happen or not. My only source of information is the article which appeared in yesterday's Bild - a German newspaper which, unfortunately, might be equated to The Sun.

The article says that Arsenal will have to pay at least 18m euros for the player, and that Koln may hold out for a fee upwards of 20m euros.

Instead of adding to the speculation, I thought I'd write a report on his abilities as a player, to try and flesh out whether he is someone who we should be trying to sign.

Podolski's well known around Europe, and indeed the world, due to his excellent performances in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and the 2008 European Championships. In particular, a memorable performance in Germany's demolition of England in South Africa means he is a well known figure among the English press, making them more likely to listen to rumours about any potential move to an English club.

Yet, his performances on a week-by-week basis in Germany are a bit more mixed.

As a young player at Koln, he scored a hat-full of goals, although the 24 he bagged in 2004-05 were during Koln's stint in the German second division. On promotion back to the first division, Podolski's tally immediately halved to 12 league goals.

Still, he did enough to earn a move to Bayern Munich in 2006 - and this is where my concerns begin. Podolski scored only 15 league goals in 71 league appearances during his three years at Bayern, although is record of 8 goals in 23 European fixtures is more impressive. Due to his indifferent form, Bayern eventually bought Luca Toni, which significantly reduced Podolski's playing time, causing him to move back to Koln in 2009.

In his first season at Koln he only scored 2 goals in 27 appearances. He was hardly much better at creating chances for his teammates, with only 4 assists and an average of only 0.7 key passes (creation of a goalscoring chance) per game. So, in his first season after Bayern, he didn't score many goals, he didn't have many assists, and he didn't create many chances. And to give that 0.7 key passes stat some context - 14 players in the current Arsenal squad have an average of over 0.8 key passes per game this season. His main facet during his first season back at Koln was his dribbling - his average of 1.1 succesful dribbles per game would be the fifth highest in the current Arsenal squad. During this season, he mainly played as one of the two attackers in a 4-4-2

Things improved during the 2010-11 season, where he played just behind the lone striker in Koln's 4-2-3-1 formation. In this position, he got 13 goals and 4 assists in 32 league appearances. Tellingly, in this slightly more withdrawn position, his key pass rate also improved, and Podolski averaged 1.7 KPs per game during this season.

The current season has probably been his best in the German first division. He already has 15 goals in only 18 league matches, probably explaining the large transfer fee that Koln have apparently requested. Podolski has seemingly interchanged between playing up-front on his own, or as a support-striker. His ability to create chances has ostensibly fallen a little bit, however - he does have 4 assists, but his KP rate has fallen to 1.1 on average, per game.

So what to make of all this?

Podolski is clearly a talented player, and has a track-record of scoring goals. He can play as a support-striker, up-front, and also on the left of an attacking three in a 4-3-3 formation. He does also create goals, but not, perhaps, quite as many as he should do. His KP rate has been lower than I would expect for a 20m euro player during his last three seasons at Koln.

Buying him for around 12m euros or less would probably represent a decent deal. Anything above that and I think the risk is too high. While he certainly represents a better option than Chamakh or Park, and he would add some versatility to our strike-force, I still think there are certain question marks about him as a player.

So, good enough for Arsenal? Probably - but only at the right price, and only as a squad player.


Anonymous said...

I agree to an extent- his stint at Bayern is cause for alarm. However, let's not forget Wenger has turned players with less pedigree than Podolski into world class players. He is 26 years old but with huge international experience and seems to have matured - maybe the move to Bayern came a little too soon and he wasn't ready mentally; the noises from his camp suggest he is finally ready to leave Cologne behind. His explosive style can get the fans excited and that quality means that I think we should pay up to 15, rather than 12 for Podolski.

Anonymous said...

Why is someone suddenly good enough if they cost less? Surely they either are or aren't good enough. There's no point buying someone just cos they are cheap, as showed with park. We need to be improving the team and if that means spending lots on 1 player it has to be done

James Swaine said...

I completely agree with this assessment. It's very risky for Arsenal to pay over £15 million, if the reports are to be believed.

Everybody seems to have jumped on the Podolski bandwagon for some reason -- maybe people are being taken by the media hype. But Gooners should be very concerned, given the limited amount of transfer money at Wenger's disposal.

James said...

Completely agree if we could get him for 8-10 million pounds its worth a punt especially with Afobe coming through the system.

But one thing I would say is that RVP too has had his downs. Ok possibly mainly down to injury but he was never prolific before this season and as we know strikers tend to hit their peak around 26-32, depending on the type of striker you are and how good you are.

Another thing you have to look at is what teams they play for if the team does not create many chances strikers appear useless. At Beyern he was was the wrong type of striker for them, with Ribery and Robben on the wings both greedy and the main striker tends to supply them not the otherway around so Podolski got frozen out but when he plays for Germany as the left sided wide man alongside Klose or in the middle with Sweistieger, Ozil and Muller supplying him he's looked very dangerous as England found out.

So for me Podolski's low scoring past does not bother me especially if we can get him for a good price. We would be getting an international class striker beggining his peak playing time.

If we were to buy a striker I'm liking the rumours about Olivier Giroud of France. Again never prolific in his tender years but another player who seems to be reaching his peak. Ok another striker from league one but he has good movement a great header, excellent technique and powerful shot an Arsenal kind of player and this season has become prolific.

Does anyone agree or know anything else about Giroud

Russ C said...

do not underestimate the pressure of a young German kid moving to Bayern. there is more pressure than a young kid moving to Liverpool / Man Utd etc... Germany offers one truly big club (in terms of global exposure) and the pressure of moving as a 19 yr old from your local village in Köln to FC Bayern is monumental. I think the comments regarding his new found maturity are spot on. Arsenal and Podol are a good fit and he has proven himself a good team player, and dangerous goal scorer at the highest level. you cant ask for too much more than that.

Anonymous said...

i think he would be a great signing Klon are perenial strugelers in the bundisleige and are currently 14 out of 18 and he has bagged 15 goals for them this season so he is not playing for a strong team and is keeping them afloat i would be reluctant to take Olivier Giroud as i think its his first big scoring season in france an inferior leauge to germany plus the last striker we got from france has not worked out so well chamack is similar in stle and build to Giroud so id be hesitant there

Rahul Rijhwani said...

Exactly, Podolski has had an on and off career, we all know the quality thats there in plenty but he dosnt seem to be at his best often. Maybe wenger can get more out of him as a player.

Rahul Rijhwani
More on -

Anonymous said...

Is almunia, chamahk, djourou, squillachi, arshavin, denilson, diaby good enough for Arsenal F.C.?

I think that is a better question. He cant be any worst that lot.

Anonymous said...

Suaez, and mertens would give us real fire power.

Anonymous said...


i'm with you mate i think we should try'n steal him for around 10m given the time left on his contract. i like the idea of a lad who would prefer to play behind a striker but still has the ability to play up front on his own. if he and rvp were to gel and rotate in a 4-4-1-1 or an arsenal 4-4-2 we could be really dangerous.

however, i am pretty familiar with this giroud bloke and he's well worth the hype. we were hoping chamakh would provide a proper arial threat but he's lost all of his confidence since rvp returned. giroud would bring that, really solid movemen, a great finish, oh, and he's 6' 4". the price tag on this one might drive us away but i think he's the type who could flourish in our offense.

Anonymous said...

anything above 8m for him is nono. podolski is shite if were honest just a player who excites and is inconsistent (which is the current problem with our whole team lol). money needs to be spent on better players i think giroud is a much better striker tbh.

Anonymous said...

Giroud is a beast, tearing Ligue 1 a new one up front! I mean, Podolski is definitively one to consider, but AW have been used to having a target man in his team, at least for the past seasons(!) Adebaywhore, Nik B and Chamakh, with only the whore being somewhat successful. The moroccan and Nik is long gone it seems, so wouldn't it be logical if AW went for a replacement target-man? After all, Olivier Giroud is scoring and assisting for fun, unlike Chamakh for Bordeaux.