Germany striker Lukas Podolski looked destined to leave his beloved Cologne for Bayern Munich in 2006. But after admitting their interest in the player, Hamburg officials hope to snatch Poldi from his southern suitors.
Cologne's Germany striker Lukas Podolski is a man much in demand
The power brokers at Bayern Munich are used to getting their own way in almost every aspect of German soccer, be it fashioning a team that can dominate the Bundesliga or creating a marketing monster capable of getting the club's crest on everything from toilet paper to thongs.
But the club's hegemony in German soccer may be put to the test in its pursuit of one of Germany's most sought-after young talents.
In the summer of 2005, it was almost a given that FC Cologne's Lukas Podolski was heading south to the German champions after the World Cup in 2006. After a string of impressive performances for the national team in which he has scored 10 goals in 20 starts, Prince Poldi made it clear that, if he were to abdicate his throne, it would be to become a Bayern player although he refused to speculate when.
However, the striker's future may in fact lie in the north. At the end of last season, it would have been laughable to suggest that SV Hamburg could be a serious challenger to the German champions in securing high profile signings, let alone challenge Bayern for the title.
Title challengers want Podolski
But after a mediocre season last term, Hamburg are in dogged pursuit of Bayern in the league and, if Hamburg's sporting director Dietmar Beiersdorfer can be believed, are also as determined to sign Podolski.
Everyone wants to get their hands on Lukas Podolski
"We want to sign him (Podolski) this summer," Beiersdorfer told the Hamburger Morgenpost. We have met Podolski, said that we would love to have him and told him about the prospects here. We have enough sporting class to make it worthwhile for Podolski to consider what is the right step for him," Beiersdorf said.
It is a statement that underlines the team's current ambition and one that suggests that it is far from fanciful to suggest Poldi could be pulling on the white shirt of HSV rather than the red of Munich in the near future.
Poldi's agent admits discussions with HSV
The 20-year-old FC Cologne forward has a contract at the Ruhr club until 2007, although the player's agent Kon Schramm has admitted that he and the player had already spoken to representatives from Hamburg in November over an eventual move. The agent did say, however, that the talks had not gone as far as discussing a transfer fee or personal terms.
Poldi could still join best mate Schweini (center) at Bayern
This will alert Bayern who will consider HSV's announcement as a direct challenge to its superiority in the German transfer market and which should prompt much serenading and waving of check books. Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has said the German champions and league leaders want Podolski from next season.
Bayern's strikers may hinder Poldi's progress
Bayern's dominance may actually be a disadvantage in the chase for Poldi. Such are the embarrassment of riches at the Munich club; Podolski may find himself down the pecking order of strikers behind the likes of Roy Makaay and Claudio Pizarro. In that way, the Polish-born striker might consider Hamburg a better club as he would be a guaranteed starter up front for HSV.
Already a German hero, Poldi could be one of a new breed of HSV stars
There may also be more of a challenge at HSV. While Bayern could tempt him with domestic league and cup titles, and possibly a better chance of European glory, Hamburg are a team on the up and it could be more attractive prospect to a young and hungry player to be part of bringing the good times back to one of Germany's oldest clubs.
Striker could favor challenge to bring glory days back
Success has mostly eluded Hamburg since the team's 1983 European Cup win, a 1987 German Cup win aside, but HSV is still considered a huge team in Germany despite that.
However, it has been a while since the club has enjoyed the pulling power necessary to bring the big names to the AOL Arena. The signing of Dutch star Rafael van der Vaart in 2005 may have been the catalyst for the club's current title-challenging form but it could also pave the way for future high profile signings, such as Podolski, and a return to the glory days.