Germany international Lukas Podolski has agreed a deal to join Arsenal at the end of this season

Arsenal pulled off a major coup this morning, announcing that they have a deal in place with Bundeslige club 1.FC Köln to sign experienced German international Lukas Podolski.

The deal, reported by the BBC to be worth £10.9m, brings another major name to an Arsenal squad which has ditched a long-standing refusal to sign established players. And Podolski, the sharp-shooting forward who can play up front or out wide on his preferred left flank, brings another valuable asset to the Emirates as a man who attract some of a defence’s attention away from Robin van Persie.

The two should make an enthralling strike partnership next season. If, of course, van Persie is still at the club by the time Podolski makes his Premier League debut.

Podolski may not be a prolific goalscorer – he scored his 50th Bundeslige goal against Hannover last March, having played for seven years in the league – but he is a creative force and brings the ability to change a game in a flash of flair or pace. Podolski has played much of his career with Köln, the club which game him his break in top-flight football, despite long-term interest from other clubs. He returned to Köln in 2009 after an unspectacular three-year spell at Bayern Munich, where injuries and the prevalence of Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni kept him from being a first-team regular. He has had more success with the German national team, with an excellent record of 43 goals in 91 appearances.

On the surface, this looks like a major deal by manager Arsene Wenger to bring in a big name and placate the Dutchman’s doubts about the club’s ability to pursue titles in England and Europe. And in completing the deal well in advance of the transfer window – a practise much less common in the 21st century than it used to be – Wenger and chairman Ivan Gazidis have given themselves a powerful bargaining chip for van Persie’s contract negotiations, due to take place after the season finishes.

With a less optimistic head on, though, I can’t help thinking this deal represents Arsenal securing themselves a replacement for when van Persie departs.

Robin van Persie's goals have anchored Arsenal's season - and Gunners fans, not to mention Arsene Wenger, will hope he commits his future to the club this summer

The Netherlands frontman has been without question the outstanding player of the 2011-12 Premier League season. He has scored numerous unforgettable goals – including another one in Arsenal’s memorable comeback against Tottenham ten days ago – and secured Arsenal valuable points on several occasions without, or even in spite of, the performances of some of his teammates. As ever in modern football, his other-worldly form has the game’s predators circling over the Emirates.The mind-games began yesterday with Roberto Mancini’s admission that he would be interested in taking van Persie to Manchester City, but that he believes the Dutchman will stay put. Of course, with only Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Mario Balotelli, a returning Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor, whose loan at Spurs will end in the summer, to choose from, Mancini is crying out for a decent target man. Sort of.

City aside, van Persie would likely have his choice of any top club on the planet if he were to leave Arsenal. It is hard to imagine the likes of established giants Manchester Utd, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Inter Milan not making an offer. The nouveau riche of world football – Paris Saint-Germain, Anzhi Makhachkala, Corinthians, the Chinese league – offer a variety of other enticing possibilities. Then there’s Barcelona, now home to one of van Persie’s closest friends – Cesc Fabregas.

If he stays, though, RVP may find himself at last in a squad to rival the Arsenal team he joined as a bright-eyed teenager in 2003. Podolski is an exciting capture, and with the likes of Gervinho, Mikel Arteta, Theo Walcott and the emerging Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain already on the books, Arsenal now look set to have more creativity feeding van Persie than they have seen since the Invincibles. Per Mertesacker is finally adjusting to the English game, Laurent Koscielny has looked far more assured this season, and we have not seen anything like the best of Andre Santos. Further excitement is evoked by the Sun‘s reports that Wenger’s next target is Dortmund wonderkid Mario Götze.

Are Arsenal finally back on the road to success – and that elusive first trophy since 2006? Podolski’s arrival is a boost – but van Persie remains the key to the Gunners’ future.

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