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Return to Cologne

Podolski to leave Bayern in the summer

Germany international Lukas Podolski will leave Bayern at the end of this season and return to his former club 1. FC Köln, it was officially announced on Monday. The player, who will sign a four-year contract binding him to the Rhineland club until 2013, moves for an undisclosed fee, although the transfer deal includes a friendly match between Köln and the German champions.

“We have accommodated Lukas Podolski’s explicit wish for a return to Köln,” commented FC Bayern Munich AG board director Uli Hoeneß. “This brings to an end all the rumours of recent weeks.” The 23-year-old Podolski said he was “delighted that a decision has been taken regarding my sporting future, and that the speculation about me will now end.”

Twelve goals for FCB

The striker, capped 60 times by his country, left Köln for Munich in summer 2006, but struggled to cement a regular place in the team. He has twelve goals to his name in 58 Bundesliga appearances for Bayern to date. In Cologne colours, Podolski fired 46 goals in 81 first and second division outings between 2003 and 2006.

The player has scored four times in 16 competitive appearances so far this term, although he has been held back by a string of illness and injury problems, which also caused him to miss Bayern’s winter training camp in Dubai. After recovering from a heavy bout of flu, Podolski is currently working on his fitness and is expected to resume the squad training programme in the course of this week.

Good character

“I rate Lukas as a player of good character. That’s why I believe he’ll show a certain gratitude towards FC Bayern now, because we’ve found a solution for him. I expect him to give his all right to the end and bid a wonderful farewell to Munich,” Bayern general manager Hoeneß continued. “I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’ll be totally focused on Bayern through until the summer,” Podolski confirmed.