Arsenal vice-captain Per Mertesacker has hailed Lukas Podolski as the club’s best finisher after the forward bagged a 91st-minute winner in the 2-1 Champions League win at Anderlecht.
Podolski, 29, has made just one start in six appearances so far this season following a summer of speculation surrounding his future, with last month’s 2-1 Capital One Cup defeat to Southampton the lone time he has featured in the XI.
Linked to the likes of Juventus, Napoli and Wolfsburg during the closing stages of the transfer window, the subsequent £16 million arrival of Danny Welbeck from Manchester United has only served to push him further down the pecking order since, and caused the German international to express open concern about his future in north London.
Nevertheless, Mertesacker is well aware of the qualities Podolski brings to the side, having also been long-time teammates on the national team, and is adamant that his fellow World Cup-winning compatriot will prove a more important contributor for Arsene Wenger moving forward.
‘It is a difficult period but he showed how vital he is with his clinical finishing,’ he told www.arsenal.com.
‘You can wake him up every second of the day and he will score with his left foot. That is the quality we need in the last five minutes when it is crunch time.
‘You can see that he’s our best finisher in every training session. Even with the side of his foot, he has power and that is what you need sometimes. We play a lot of football around the box but when it comes to finishing and shooting, sometimes we lack that.’
Arriving from FC Koln in the summer of 2012, Podolski has scored a commendable 29 goals in 75 games during his two seasons at the Emirates, but he remains far down the pecking order in the battle for minutes on either the flanks or up top.
Nevertheless, substitute outings like the one in Brussels on Wednesday will go some way towards convincing Wenger to hand him a bigger role over the coming months, with his situation likely to be reviewed once the winter market opens.