Ahead of the German national soccer team's friendly against France, striker Lukas Podolski is in the spotlight over reports he is soon to leave his hometown team of Cologne for English club Arsenal.
Striker Lukas Podolski is soon to be transferred from his hometown team to English Premier League side Arsenal, according to a report by the mass-circulation German daily "Bild."
The tabloid said the transfer fee for the London club would likely be at least 18 million euros ($24.2 million).
Both clubs have declined to confirm the transfer, with Podolski's manager Kon Schramm telling the Cologne daily "Kölner Stadtanzeiger" on Tuesday evening that he would "refuse to join in the speculation."
The player, lovingly named "Prince Poldi," is a local hero in his hometown, Cologne, where he grew up after his family moved there from Poland. He has scored half of the 30 goals the club has netted in the Bundesliga this season, in which they have dropped to fifth-to-last place and are battling against relegation.
Lukas Podolski had moved to Germany's most prestigious club, Bayern Munich, in 2006 after he successfully played in the national team during the 2006 World Cup. But Cologne lured him back in 2009 following a highly emotional city-wide campaign from fans and club members.
Recently Podolski, who at the age of 26 is approaching his prime, complained that the promises that had helped lure him back to his boyhood club had not been kept.
"What's missing is continuity," he told the Bild newspaper. "We regularly change out our coach, our sporting director - now even our president. Clearly put, things can't go on like this."
The club management was not amused and announced that Podolski would likely be fined for his comments.
This had fuelled speculation that the striker was ready to go. International clubs such as Galatasaray, Lazio and Arsenal had expressed their interest.
Bundesliga pundits have long been arguing that a player with Podolski's talent and international acclaim has everything to gain by leaving a mediocre Bundesliga club for an international top club in the Premier League.
rg/acb (dpa, AFP)