According to the latest reports, German international striker Lukas Podolski has finally admitted that he will be joining North London-based Premiership side Arsenal at the start of the 2012-13 season, leaving FC Koln with just a year remaining on his contract.
The move to Arsenal provides a great opportunity for me to gain experience in international competitions at a top European club, the 26-year-old, whose exact transfer fee is yet to be revealed, told The Guardian.
I have made this decision not against FC Köln but for this great opportunity and the good of my own individual development. This was not an easy decision for me at all, as Koln, our fans and the city are something special for me. I will always carry FC Koln in my heart. We need to pool our strengths now and have to be fully focused on our survival in the Bundesliga.
The German has been linked with Arsenal for the last seven months. According to Koln's executive board chairman Claus Horstmann, Lukas Podolski is a player of world class standing with a special relation to FC Koln's fans and to the city. We are proud of the development Lukas Podolski has taken at the club within the last years. From his early days at our youth squads, via his first competitive match for our professional team, through to a highly renowned Germany international.
He added, That's why we deeply regret his step, which is not a decision against FC but for the good of his own career. FC Koln were prepared to extend Lukas Podolski's contract on the basis of a competitive offer. Nonetheless, this early transfer decision offers scope and planning security for the next season. We will jump at this opportunity to reinvest these transfer earnings back into our team's quality and into the promotion of our youth squads.
Podolski has made more than 160 appearances for Koln and managed to bag more than 70 goals in his stint at the RheinEnergieStadion.