This summer Arsenal are heavily linked with big name strikers coming in to smash their current record transfer fee after another disappointing season just clinching fourth place in the Premier League ahead of North London rivals Tottenham on the final day of the season.
“It’s always good when good players come in. I don’t worry about a specific player. And it’s certainly not a problem,” he explained in relation to the potential of Gonzalo Higuain arriving from Real Madrid.
According to numerous reports, including statements made by the Argentine striker’s father, Arsenal are in talks to negotiate personal terms to bring the 25-year-old Los Blancos star to the Emirates.
“I’m strong enough and I have qualities. And when good players come in, I’ll play with good players,” Podolski added.
Competition for places at a top football club is not only beneficial to the team’s performance but is, in many cases, a necessity – the will to improve and impress the manager is increased by competition from other quality players vying for the same position in the starting line-up.
However, competition can also create dressing room tension and, more importantly, damage the confidence and subsequently form of the players who don’t make the first team on a regular basis – the example of Marouane Chamakh is apt in this instance.
Chamakh wasn’t a ‘flop’ when he arrived from Bordeaux on a free transfer in 2010. The Moroccan scored 11 goals and made 8 assists across all competition for the Gunners in his first season at the Emirates in which he made a total of 44 appearances.
However, back then, when Robin van Persie returned from injury, he leap-frogged Chamakh into Arsene Wenger’s starting line-up and the Moroccan’s confidence and form evaporated.
Chamakh made just 11 league appearances the following season in 2011/12 and none last term – subsequently he managed just one solitary league goal in two seasons.
Olivier Giroud had made a strong start in his debut Premier League with Arsenal, netting 11 league goals and making 4 assists this term in 34 Premier League appearances. Should he be worried about his position as the lone centre-forward if a player like Higuain or Luis Suarez, who Arsenal have recently been linked with arrives, arrives?
Podolski was one of the most substituted players in the English top tier this term – likely the boss used him conservatively due to his adapting to the English game where, unlike the Bundesliga, does not enjoy a winter break.
However, Podolski was predominantly deployed on the left wing, opposite Theo Walcott on the right flank with Giroud through the middle for much of the season. Giroud was (and is still) the only out-and-out centre-forward in the first team but if a top quality striker comes in, his status will inevitably change.
Whilst I doubt that Giroud is to become the next Chamakh at Arsenal, he has to ensure that his attitude is positive in a situation such as this – if Higuain or a similar player comes in, he’s going to have to work harder to impress the boss and earn his right to play.
He can’t afford to let his head drop if he is resigned to the bench on a regular basis and may way well have to prove himself in a ‘super-sub’ capacity, coming on as a late game-changer along the lines of Javier Hernandez at Manchester United.
This shouldn’t be a concern for a professional but he is responsible, along with the manager, for ensuring he remains confident, positive and competitive. That was undoubtedly the failure of Marouane Chamakh.