Exclusive: Germany star Podolski keen on Arsenal switch
Published 23:00 31/12/11 By Bill Mills
Germany striker Lukas Podolski remains Arsenal’s top striker target for the January window.
Thierry Henry may already be in the building as a loan signing, but the Gunners’ search for a top line marksman continues and the news leaking out of FC Cologne is good.
There are reports in Germany that Podolski has fallen out with the club’s director of Sport, Volker Finke.
Claus Horstman, Cologne’s managing director, virtually confirmed the rift , saying: “The two don’t have to love each other, but they must respect each other and trust each other,”
The Cologne striker, 26, is keen on a move to the Emirates, but is still waiting for a deal to be struck between the two clubs.
Cologne are aware they will be losing their star player in Podolski, and have slapped a £12.5million rating on him.
It may seem a low fee for an established international striker but his current contract expires in June 2013.
Cologne’s hierarchy have been aware that a series of Arsenal scouts have been watching Podolski over the last few months.
He has struck 14 league goals for Cologne so far this season, and Per Mertesacker, the Arsenal defender who plays alongside Podolski for Germany, has already delivered his personal recommendation.
Mertesacker said: “He is a powerful, great player, especially for the national team.
“He has scored a lot of goals, is a good striker with a very good finish. His left foot is unbelievable and I am a fan of his.’’
Arsenal’s players also witnessed the fact that Podolski won’t be messed around on the pitch. Last summer, when Cologne entertained Arsenal in a pre-season friendly, Podolski was fouled by Arsenal defender Sebastien Squillaci and immediately spun around to confront the French centre-back. (See video below).
Despite attempts by team-mates to pull the duo apart Podolski refused to back down before making his point. It was the kind of controlled aggression that many people believe Arsenal have lacked in recent times.
Podolski’s potential was first acclaimed in the 2004 European Championships. He was the youngest debutant in Germany’s football history when he played for Rudi Voller’s side. And at the 2006 World Cup Podolski was chosen as the biggest emerging talent of the finals, being picked by FIFA ahead of Spain’s Cesc Fabregas, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
His three goals helped the hosts to reach the semi-finals.
The Gunners’ target was born a Polish citizen near Katowice. His parents moved to Germany when he was two years old and because of their German ancestors the Podolskis were entitled to obtain German passports in 1987.
He started his career at Cologne and his goals earned him a 10million euro move to Bayern Munich in 2006.
But the move wasn’t a huge success and Podolski returned to Cologne in 2009.