Former Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski has urged Arsenal fans to be more appreciative of Arsene Wenger, saying they owe him more than they realise.
The 31-year-old, who marked his 130th and final Germany appearance with a stunning winner against England on Wednesday, played under Wenger during a three-year spell at Arsenal before joining current club Galatasaray in 2015.
And Podolski believes Wenger, whose future in north London is uncertain, is going to be a hard act to follow at the Emirates.
“He built the club from nothing to now they have a lot,” Podolski said. “It will be interesting when he leaves who comes in because the club is built like in the Arsene Wenger style. Who will come? I don’t know.”
Although Wenger is credited with maintaining Arsenal’s top-four status throughout the years of financial constraint which accompanied their move from Highbury to the Emirates, Podolski’s claim that he built the club “from nothing” will be challenged by those who remember them winning the league twice in the decade before he arrived.
Wenger has guided Arsenal to three Premier League titles and six FA Cups, but Arsenal have not won a league title since the unbeaten 2003-04 campaign.
Arsenal have finished in the top four in each of the past 20 seasons, but that run is in jeopardy after four defeats in five league outings saw them slip to sixth, six points behind fourth-placed Liverpool, albeit with two games in hand.
However, despite that Podolski disagrees with Wenger’s critics.
“This season it will be hard to get the place for the Champions League, they are sixth or seventh?” he said. “But this is the English League, there are six, seven or eight teams to fight for the European place.”
Wenger, who is out of contract in the summer, has said he has made up his mind on whether he will remain in charge beyond the end of the current campaign but is yet to reveal whether he will sign a new deal.
The Frenchman insists he will remain loyal to Arsenal irrespective of whether he leaves in a matter of months or years.
He told beIN Sports: “My news is that I have no news for you.
“No matter how long I stay I will be committed and completely focused as long as I stay at the club, so how long I stay doesn’t really matter because as long as I’m there I’m completely focused on what is to achieve the best with the club.”
Wenger has also denied he has been offered a contract by Ligue 1 champions Paris St Germain.