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Podolski Pines for Glory Days at FC Cologne

Stuck on the bench at Bayern Munich, German international striker Lukas Podolski said he dreams of better days of scoring goals to adoring fans at his old club Cologne. Poldi said he may even look for a transfer.

Bayern Munich striker Lukas Podolski sits on the bench

Lukas Podolski gets more chances to relax on matchdays than he'd really like.

For his country he's a goal machine, and a regular feature in the starting lineup, but Lukas Podolski has rarely had the chance to take the pitch for Bayern Munich.

Podolski's chance looked like it had come over the weekend when Italian superstar Luca Toni was out injured, normally Poldi would be the man to step into the breach.

But Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann had other ideas. Playing against a relatively weak Bielefeld team, Klinsmann elected instead to play Miroslav Klose as a lone striker and further bolster the midfield. This plan didn't work against the defensive minded Bielefeld, so Podolski came on at half-time. He set up one goal and then scored another himself, securing victory for his club.

Yet Podolski is still unlikely to start in Wednesday's Champions' League match against Fiorentina.

A frustrated pine rider

Podolski shoots a goal for Germany

A prolific scorer for his country, but not for his club

23-year-old moved to Bayern Munich from Cologne in the summer of 2006. After over two seasons, he hasn't established himself in the starting 11, and Bayern's big money signings of fellow strikers Klose and Toni haven't helped his cause.

Riding the bench while Klose and Toni shoot on goal, Podolski has said he's getting fed up.

"You can understand that I will be considering by the winter break how things are going to continue," Podolski told Kicker magazine.

Podolski started his career in his home town Cologne, and quickly became the city's favorite son by netting 46 goals in 81 games for the club, and for most of that time he was still a teenager.

Poldi, as he came to be known, was playing so well for club and country -- grabbing the "Best Young Player" Award at World Cup 2006 in Germany -- that his second division side knew it wouldn't be able to cling to their talented forward forever. Bayern Munich opened their check book offering 10 million euros ($12.9 million) and poached Cologne's rising superstar.

Two years on, Cologne's fortunes have improved. The side was promoted to the German top flight this season, and after a respectable start Cologne could be back in the Bundesliga for good.

"He dreams of cologne day and night"

Uli Hoeness, Manager of the German first division Bundesliga team FC Bayern Munich, gestures during the General Annual Meeting of FC Bayern Munich in Munich, southern Germany, on Monday, Nov. 12, 2007.

Hoeness has pointed out the Podolski problem before

Podolski's most outspoken critic, Bayern Munich General Manager Uli Hoeness said the forward only scores for Germany and only against inferior opposition. Hoeness has also claimed that it's no secret where the player's heart truly lies.

"For him there is only Cologne, Cologne and Cologne," Hoeness said. "He dreams of Cologne day and night."

Still, the official Bayern Munich position remain that Podolski is not for sale, and that he will play more often if he performs better and scores more goals. Podolski has only netted 10 times in over 2 years in Munich compared to a strike rate of 31 goals in 59 games with the national team.

Club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge explained the team's position to reporters on Tuesday, saying Bayern have received no offers for Podolski, and that the striker would see out his contract which runs till 2010.

"We are not concerned with this topic," insisted Rummenigge. "Lukas has a contract with us until 2010 and we will stick to that. My advice to him is: play well, score goals."

High profile teammates like French playmaker Franck Ribery, have also called on Podolski to keep a cool head during his time on the Bayern bench. Ribery said Podolski is an important player who's still improving, and hopes that he will stay in Munich.

But FC Cologne fans are liable to disagree.

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