Created on 21-07-2008 at 00:00 AM
Just four days after reporting back from his summer holidays, Lukas Podolski struck his first goal of the season in Sunday's friendly away to the Nabburg Fan Club. "Bastian Schweinsteiger hit it long, I rounded the keeper and just had to slot it home. Simple really," the striker explained.
Nor will it be his last goal in a Bayern jersey. "I'll definitely be at Bayern this season,“ the striker declared on Monday, quashing fevered and prolonged media speculation as to his immediate future. "I'm totally focused on the new season and I'm looking forward to it," the 23-year-old added.
Heart-to-heart with Klinsmann
Jürgen Klinsmann also ruled out a move away from Munich for the Germany international. "There's no way we'd consider that, because we're approaching a season which promises a great deal," the Bayern boss told FCB.tv, "we need at least three top strikers to get anywhere in Europe - and Lukas is one of the three.“
Klinsmann made his views clear to the goal-getter in heart-to-heart talks last Friday. "We had thoroughly positive talks," the coach reported. "I repeated what I said to him before the European championships: he's still developing as a player, he has bags of talent, he's already achieved a lot despite his young age, but he still has a few steps to take in order to become better. That's where I want to help him, and I will help him.“
Rivalry with Toni and Klose
A return to his beloved Cologne, a constant theme of press speculation recently, would be the wrong move for Podolski, Klinsmann argued. "I think what's happening in Cologne is great, the way they're calling for their Prinz Poldi to come home. The whole subject is very emotional," commented Klinsmann, "but I've told him in no uncertain terms that his next steps have to be taken on the international stage. The next step for him is to hold his own in the Champions League and take more responsibility for Germany, and Bayern set the standards in both respects. He needs to battle through, and Lukas will battle through.“
Podolski will have to prove himself against Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose, the coach continued. "His job is to attack the other two, so they know they've been in a fight," said Klinsmann, "Lukas will get chances to prove himself.“
Playing time and trophies
A lack of appearances in the last two years was the main reason Podolski's thoughts briefly turned to moving away from Munich. "I can't be satisfied with last season. I hardly ever played. Anyone would consider his position in the circumstances," the player reported. The 23-year-old only covered the full 90 minutes seven times last term, although he made a respectable 41 appearances in total, scoring ten goals.
"I don't want to warm the bench. I want to play matches and win trophies," Podolski declared. The period since last Christmas, culminating in a creditable Euro 2008, have bolstered his confidence. "He's done very well in the last six months, including the Euro. If he keeps it up, he'll be fine here," commented Uli Hoeneß.
Podolski also feels more settled in Munich nowadays. "I never really felt at home here, but it's improved tremendously since my son was born last April," the Germany star observed. "I'll now seek to do my very best in pre-season."
The striker agreed with the head coach that their talks had been "positive“. From their days together with the Germany set-up, Podolski is aware "that he has a coach who is always there and willing to listen," Klinsmann promised. "Provided Lukas gets into his stride physically, the Bayern fans will get a lot of pleasure from watching him play.“