Why this Arsenal striker should not be included in any Draxler deal

Lukas Podolski has often cut a much-maligned figure at the Emirates Stadium since his move from Cologne but still has a vital role to play at the club

Reports in The Sun this morning suggest Arsenal may be prepared to sacrifice Lukas Podolski in their efforts to prise Julian Draxler away from Schalke - in a deal which would total £35m.

Draxler appears to be manager Arsene Wenger's primary transfer target this summer and may even be of interest in the final week of the transfer window if Schalke can be convinced to sell.

The idea of Draxler arriving at Arsenal is one that excites most Gunners fans, with the German starlet yet to reach his peak and already showing various examples of his undeniable potential.

What the Gunners faithful aren't so delighted about, however, is the idea that Podolski may act as a makeweight in any deal, with the German coming to represent solely a super-sub since his return to first-team action.

A hamstring tear has prevented Podolski from having a meaningful impact on Arsenal's title challenge and fight on two other fronts to end a nine-year wait for a trophy but his performance in the 2-0 win over Cardiff on New Year's Day - when he was entrusted with the problematic centre-forward role in Olivier Giroud's absence - did little to increase any sort of reputation as a central option.

Podolski has played regularly for the German national side on the left wing and has been shunted out to the flank, too, with the Gunners, but that position has hardly come to suit his requirements either, with Santi Cazorla more often than not getting the nod from that side.

Draxler would bolster Wenger's choices in that area tenfold but Podolski's presence - on and off the field - should not be so easily disregarded.

His hammer of a left foot puts him ahead of most as Arsenal's deadliest finisher and while his all-round game is ill-fitting with the role he craves, the idea of Podolski dovetailing with Olivier Giroud in a 4-4-2 or formation of that ilk is surely something that has not escaped Wenger's trail of thought.

Likewise, Podolski has the ingredients to operate from an attacking midfield role and, given a license to roam, is likely to inflict damage on any opposition defence with his turn of pace and technical ability.

There are many obstacles currently hampering Podolski's progress with Arsenal but to use him as bait would appear to be giving up on a player who, of course, has registered over 40 goals in 111 caps for the Nationalmannschaft.

When Wenger snapped Podolski up from Cologne, there was confusion as to where he would function in the frontline but his versatility and matchwinning capabilities should not elude Gunners fans.

Indeed, ever since his arrival at the club in the summer of 2012, the 28-year-old has made just 35 starts and 48 appearances if you include his contribution from the bench, scoring 19 goals and providing 11 assists in total. Not exactly bad going for a man who has hardly set North London alight since his venture here began.

His boisterous, charming and humourous demeanour off the field also endears Arsenal supporters, who consider Podolski, alongside the likes of Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky, to be one of the cult heroes.

A fans' favourite and, most importantly, still a talented individual who can pop up with a decisive moment at any stage, Podolski's future should be alongside Draxler not as a sweetener in any switch.

Wenger et al must find a way of ensuring the next star from the German conveyor belt whilst circumventing the departure of one who should still be held in such esteem.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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