Why Arsenal's Lukas Podolski should follow in Thierry Henry's MLS footsteps

Lukas Podolski Germany

With little chance of a long-term future with either loan club Inter Milan or the Gunners, the German striker shouldn't dismiss the idea of a move to MLS.

With Lukas Podolski failing to impress during his loan spell at Inter Milan, it looks doubtful that the Arsenal striker has a long-term future at the San Siro.

Still to open his scoring account in 10 appearances, the German World Cup-winner has had to settle for a spot on the bench for the past two Serie A matches and even came under criticism from manager Roberto Mancini following his substitution in the 1-0 home loss to Fiorentina earlier this month.

Named Gazzetta dello Sport’s second-worst Serie A winter signing, all signs seem to point towards a return to the Emirates Stadium at the end of the campaign, but where the out-of-favour forward then goes from there remains to be seen.

While under contract under 2016, the fact that Podolski laid into Arsene Wenger over his lack of first-team minutes prior to moving to Inter suggests the pair’s relationship is tenuous at best, while the club’s plethora of attacking options leaves little chance of a reprieve.

Instead, a permanent departure looks like the likelier outcome but, as was made clear in the summer, finding potential suitors for his reported 100,000-per-week wages will prove a tough ask.

Linked to the likes of Juventus and Wolfsburg throughout preseason, per the Daily Mail, the finances involved saw a move fail to materialise at the time, and Podolski’s form since would have done little to convince teams across Europe of his worth, even at a cut-price fee.

One alternative, however, could well be MLS, where the intent to grow the league’s global footprint has both teams and officials ever-eager to bring on board big-name stars who become available across the pond.

Podolski would no doubt fit that bill and was in fact linked to both expansion side New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls in the summer, per Bild, before ultimately remaining in north London for the first half of the season.

The 121-times capped international even hinted that he had received offers from the US during a September interview with Kicker, although his comments at the time seemed more than dismissive of a stateside switch.

“There were some enquiries from abroad, and also from the Bundesliga,” he told the magazine, as ESPN FC reported. “But as a Cologne guy, it would have been difficult to play for another club in Germany. To go to Russia - Walachia [a German expression for the middle of nowhere] - or the United States was in no way an alternative for me.”

Nevertheless, it’s clear that Podolski’s fortunes have taken a turn for the worse since and, with his summer options set to be limited, he could well find himself warming to the idea of an MLS move.

The likes of NYCFC and the Red Bulls would at least be able to match his sizeable wage demands, while the recent arrival of Sebastian Giovinco from Juventus shows that the league shouldn’t just be viewed as a retirement destination at this point.

In addition, it’s fair to claim that Podolski has a certain fondness for the limelight and he’d no doubt get that in waves in MLS thanks to his decorated résumé, especially in a major media market like Los Angeles or New York.

The Red Bulls in particular would stand out as a viable destination, with the club still looking for someone to step in to replace Thierry Henry, following the former skipper’s offseason retirement.

Ex-Leeds United forward Mike Grella is the only attacking acquisition the team have made since to compliment 2014 Golden Boot-winner Bradley Wright-Phillips and head coach Jesse Marsh told MLSsoccer.com last month that one or even two DP signings could be on the agenda come the summer.

“It would be with the thought that, 'What big player can we go out to get to add to this?' Whether it is a Designated Player – that would probably be the category of player we're looking for,” Marsch said. “… For sure, we're leaving room for one or two big moves if we feel we need to.”

With Henry’s old spot on the left flank of the club’s 4-2-3-1 formation still essentially up for grabs, there is a role ready and waiting for Podolski, who it’s easy to envisage becoming a fan favourite across MLS circles if he performs up to the standard he’s capable of.

At 29, he might think it’s too soon to head across the Atlantic but, with a chance to be a trailblazer for the league’s latest stage of development at a time when the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard are also arriving, it’s an opportunity he shouldn’t dismiss.

Henry is even back at the Emirates to offer him advice if needed and, given the good words the Gunners legend has to say about his time in the States, one can imagine Podolski only being further convinced into a move were the two pair to have a heart-to-heart.

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