Reports in both Germany and England in the last two days are that Bundesliga side Schalke are set to make a loan move for Arsenal’s Lukas Podolski.

This will interest fans of three different teams, and we’ll start with Arsenal.

Podolski is a class act, normally and best deployed on wide on the left. Whilst there can be no doubting his ability, he has struggled to get into the team at times, the most recent evidence playing 8 minutes of his side’s Champions League qualifier against Fenerbahçe on Wednesday.

Arsenal have been linked with Karim Benzema but more importantly Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid, who coincidentally, also plays wide on the left. Wenger is many things, but stupid is not one of them – it is highly unlikely that he would allow Podolski to leave without a ready made replacement on his way in, especially given Arsenal’s wobbly start to the season.

Podolski is also perfectly capable of leading the line himself, or as a second striker. With the injury to Klaas Jan Huntelaar last week against Wolfsburg, Schalke are set to turn to Hungarian striker Adam Szalai to fill the void in the Dutchman’s absence.

Szalai came through the youth system at Real Madrid, but has played for mid-table Mainz since he left the Bernabeu. The step of average Bundesliga side to absolutely having to qualify for the Champions League (following Schalke’s 1-1 draw with PAOK) and having to fill the shoes of the clinical Huntelaar is a fairly big one, and the experience and quality of Podolski would definitely bridge the gap for Szalai and Schalke.

The final club that will be happy to see this deal go through will be Celtic. The Hoops have had an offer for Schalke’s Finnish striker Teemu Pukki rejected, most probably as Schalke need cover up front. With the experienced Podolski coming in, Pukki (who features scarcely anyway) will surely be deemed surplus to requirements at the Veltins Arena.

Proven by their limp first leg showing against Shakhter, Celtic are crying out for a striker capable of holding his own in Europe and Pukki would all bit guarantee them this. Especially being flanked by the classy Derk Boerrigter and European away day specialist Giorgios Samaras.

Whether the Podolski loan materialises or not is still unclear, with Schalke general manager Horst Heldt giving nothing away about the deal when asked.

Time will tell, but given the sides mentioned unimpressive starts to their respective seasons, fans of all three clubs involved should hold out hope that it does.

Kieran Mullen




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