Germany forward Lukas Podolski could reportedly be allowed to leave Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, according to Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
Poldi has had to endure criticism from all quarters after an inauspicious Bayern career
Podolski is said to favor a return to his home club Cologne but Werder Bremen reiterated on Wednesday that they would be interested in the 23-year-old as well. The price tag is allegedly 15 million euros ($23.6 million).
"His advisors told us that he wants to leave the club with the preference of Cologne," Rummenigge was quoted as saying by Wednesday's edition of the Sport Bild weekly.
Rummenigge said this was the reason why Munich was looking into possible replacements such as Germany striker Mario Gomez from VfB Stuttgart.
Cologne "matter of the heart" for Poldi
Podolski, who was included in UEFA's 23-man "squad of the tournament" for Euro 2008, told Sport Bild that "Cologne would be a matter of the heart for me." He started his career 1995 in the Cologne junior teams and even played second-division football at the club before moving to Munich in 2006 for 11 million euros.
But Podolski has rarely started in Munich and expressed his dissatisfaction during the recent Euro 2008 tournament where he scored three goals in Germany's run to the final they lost against Spain. He spent most of last season on the Bayern bench behind first-choice strikers Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose and was not shy about voicing his frustrations.
Podolski was a revelation playing in the midfield for Germany during Euro 2008
"At the European Championships, I showed what I can do," said Podolski, who started all of Germany's Euro 2008 games in an attacking midfielder role.
And giving the clearest indication of his priorities, he said during last month's tournament: "Everything is possible. I have a contract with Bayern but everyone knows Cologne is a club apart in my eyes. Playing is more important for me than titles."
Podolski said it was up to the clubs to talk and Cologne coach Christoph Daum vowed in Wednesday's edition of the local Express daily that "we will be in the frame as soon as there is a signal from Munich that Poldi can leave."
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But promoted Cologne are not the only club interested in the popular Podolski, as Bremen sports director Klaus Allofs also said, in Wednesday's edition of Die Welt paper, that his club would make an attempt to hire him if Munich let him go.
Podolski could play Champions League soccer in Bremen and was urged by Bremen's Germany internationals Torsten Frings and Per Mertesacker during Euro to consider a move to their club.
VfB Stuttgart have also been linked to the striker who has 28 goals in 54 games for Germany while English Premier League sides Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, and Italian giants Juventus have all expressed an interest.
But Prinz Poldi has never made a secret of his desire to play for Cologne again one day.