Danny Welbeck’s big-money move to Arsenal could make it difficult for Lukas Podolski to secure regular game time in the coming weeks although the German international still thinks he has the trust of manager Arsene Wenger.
The World Cup winner notched a respectable 12 goals in 27 appearances last term but appeared increasingly frustrated by his time on the substitutes’ bench after recovering from an injury that sidelined him for the best part of three months before Christmas.
Faced with more competition than ever for a starting berth, the 29-year-old told Kicker magazine (translation by ESPN.co.uk) that he was taking a more long-term approach.
“Initially, it’s a difficult situation for me. When you buy new players for a lot of money they have an advantage because they will play. We’ve got a long season ahead of us, and we’ll see what happens.
“When I am in top shape, I am a perfect fit for the Arsenal team. And I see myself in the first XI then, that’s what I work towards.”
Given Theo Walcott’s imminent return, the acquisition of Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez, the return from loan of Joel Campbell, the potential of Serge Gnabry and the ability of Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla to also play in wide attack, Podolski certainly does have his work cut out.
He claims though that a chat with Arsene Wenger was enough to persuade him to turn down the enquiries of other European clubs.
“I had a chat with Arsene Wenger, during which he told me that he is banking on my firepower and assists, and wants to keep me. That’s why the issue of a transfer was rather secondary to me. I feel great in London and at Arsenal, and it continues to stay like that.
“There were some enquiries from abroad, and also from the Bundesliga. 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.”
Podolski also touched on Arsenal’s title ambitions for the year ahead as they look to build on the FA Cup and Community Shield successes of recent months. Pinpointing a need to improve against other big clubs, he concluded:
“The title is not a dream, it’s possible. But there are five or six other teams with similar thoughts. It will be down to the details in the end.
“We only won six points in the matches against the other top five clubs . Those were the points that cost us the title. We were in front for half a year, but dropped decisive points against Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool towards the end. We need to change that this year.”