Former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino says he would rather have Lukas Podolski in his Arsenal side than Mesut Ozil.
The subject of much transfer speculation in recent weeks, Podolski is thought to be heading for the exit door at the Emirates, with the £35 million summer signing of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona making him expendable under Arsene Wenger.
However, with Ozil earning mixed reviews for his debut season in England, following last September’s £42 million move from Real Madrid, Cascarino has argued for substance over style, insisting that Podolski can offer a side more through his superior work-rate, determination and finishing.
‘If you were to offer me the choice of Mesut Ozil or Lukas Podolski I’d pick the latter every time,’ he wrote in The Game.
‘Ozil is the more technically gifted but Podolski offers more work-rate, hunger and desire, is the better team player and more likely to get you a goal.’
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Considering his price tag and previous reputation, Ozil’s 2013-14 campaign was likely viewed as a disappointment by some but, at 25 years old, there still remains a great deal of untapped potential to fill.
The same likely can’t be said for Podolski, who, at 29 and having dealt with various injury issues since arriving from FC Koln in 2012, already looks to be on the decline, and simply doesn't match up to the top forwards in the league the way Ozil does to his fellow creative midfielders.
The pair ultimately bring their own qualities to the pitch, but a team looking to mount a serious title challenge needs key difference-makers in the lineup, and that’s what Ozil’s playmaking skills provide, more so than what his compatriot can as a goalscorer.