The 28-year-old Germany attacker was hauled off at Wembley after 68 minutes in the FA Cup semifinal showdown with Wigan. The Gunners were 1-0 down as the German international left the field – Arsene Wenger replacing him with Olivier Giroud who had been left on the bench in favour of youngster Yaya Sanogo.
Podolski has been one of the most substituted players in the Premier League since he arrived from Koln in the summer of 2012. Podolski and Giroud came to join the North Londoners as Robin van Persie vacated and, at the time, I full expected the former to be the star striker ahead of the Frenchman.
It quickly became apparent that Wenger intended to deploy Podolski on the left flank rather than through the middle as the lone centre-forward, which is the position, he ordinarily plays in when he appears for his country. He is a capable left winger and certainly a danger in forward areas but he has expressed his desire to play up front.
If Giroud were scoring Luis Suarez’ level and range of goals, I could perfectly understand the manager keeping Podolski on the bench but the Frenchman has seen a dip in form since the turn of the year and it’s abundantly clear 21-year-old Sanogo who arrived from French Ligue 2 last summer, is far from ready to lead the line at the top level.
This is likely what Podolski is thinking at present, especially considering the World Cup this summer in Brazil and the huge array of attacking talent available for selection by the national coach Joachim Low.
The arrival of his compatriot Mesut Ozil last summer also looked to be a boost to his chances of maintaining his status as a regular Germany international but after his hamstring injury at the start of the campaign and his subsequent spell predominantly on the bench, Lukas Podolski may well be hopeful of a move away in search of pastures new.
At his age, there is no sense in hanging around waiting for his opportunities at Arsenal when he could very well be starting week in week out elsewhere in Europe and in the Premier League.
He is undoubtedly the Gunners’ most dangerous finisher and the closest thing to Van Persie in terms of his technique and quality in front of goal but his performances have clearly not convinced the manager he is a key player, even ahead of Sanogo.
“I play and in the last games, I always come out and of course you cannot be happy when you always go out after 60, 70 minutes," Podolski told the Daily Mirror.
I suspect, if there is an opportunity for him to go elsewhere this summer, he will want to leave and, due to the fact Wenger hasn’t and likely won’t give him assurances of regular first-team football, and perhaps the manager will grant him an exit if the player wants to go. With his former club Koln set to reclaim their place in the Bundesliga, the timing may be right.
Otherwise, I suspect the only future Lukas Podolski has at Arsenal is on the bench and that’s regardless of whether Arsenal bring in another forward this summer.