So the worst kept secret in football is out; Lukas Podolski has signed for Arsenal and there is an optimism that he will be the first high quality signing that the club makes this summer. That Arsène wanted a goalscorer can be interpreted in many ways and is being so. His comments about over-reliance on the best centre-forward in the world hinted that he would look to redress the balance in the team for next season, a more fluid goalscoring threat. With Theo Walcott improving his productivity, scoring is going to be more evenly spread. Or so the theory goes; practice may be altogether more different but history will be the judge of that.
For Arsenal, signing a player who at the age of 26 is fast approaching a century of caps in the German national team with a record at that level of a goal every other game is impressive although playing in the wide left attacking role has diminished his goalscoring effectiveness somewhat. Tempering his record at Köln and internationally, is the dismal spell he endured at Bayern yet that ended in 2009 and no doubt Arsène took more notice of the upturn in his form over the past two seasons.
In an age where money talks and the best in the world want to be at the biggest clubs on very handsome wages, the signing is a positive step for the club. It signals that the club is willing to broaden the spectrum across the salary structure, a scale that has been a bone of contention in the stands at least. This is not a new theme, as far back as 1958 the salaries at Arsenal as you will find out this coming weekend at Arsenal On This Day although this morning celebrates the 1953 title being delivered on goal average.
It also clips the wings of the criticism of Arsène’s transfer activity, a source of dissension as the summer window passes by with everyone but Arsenal signing players. Last year’s accusations of panic buying were a step too far; I think it only applied to Park with the coming deadline (and drubbing at Old Trafford) forcing the club’s hand in terms of fees. As I have suggested before, I still cannot fathom the signing of Park and will to some extent be surprised if he survives this summer at the club. There has to be more to it than the manager finding him to be lower in ability than the scouting reports suggested but his future is more likely to be linked to whom Arsenal retain or sign than his own desire.
The psyche of the modern football fan has been exposed though with this signing. There has been cynicism about the timing or whether the German is a replacement, signed before the inevitable disappointment comes. I am sure that Podolski is a signing to strengthen the squad although Abou Diaby’s latest setback has made me wonder…
As for the timing, there are a multitude of reasons for not announcing it sooner, not least of which is having all of the t‘s crossed and i‘s dotted on the paperwork but most likely is the combination of results at the weekend which condemned Köln to at least the relegation play-off in the Bundesliga. I do not subscribe to the view that this is a cheap ploy to increase season ticket renewals either; it won’t help but in itself, it is not a “game-changer“. I did find it curious that the official site was able to respond to the release of the information so quickly; that does not normally happen. Arsenal wouldn’t hold up a transfer just to let the site appear to be up-to-date with news. Would they…?
Anyhow, I am just enjoying a positive few days. It has been a filip in the build-up to the final home game of the season this weekend, a match of key importance that combined with Podolski’s arrival can offer a sign of intent for the next campaign. Who they are sending those signals to remains to be seen. Last night’s crumbling on the pitch and touchlines offered the suggestion that Sir Alex Ferguson is heading toward a Keegan-esque meltdown in the near future. Mancini has never irked me in the way that he does some; if anything last night’s hand gestures to the Scot meant he went up in my estimation, especially when Ferguson made his own pathetic mimicking efforts.
Happy days all-round. Heeeyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!