Belfast Telegraph

Podolski aims to make mark at Gunners

Lukas Podolski is determined to take his second chance at "one of the top clubs in Europe" after it was officially confirmed he would join Arsenal next season.

The worst-kept secret in football was finally out in the open as the Gunners and Cologne announced Germany striker Podolski was moving to the Emirates Stadium after this summer's European Championships.

He had no qualms about testing himself at another of Europe's giants, saying: "I'm so happy to be joining Arsenal Football Club and to play in the Premier League. Arsenal is one of the top clubs in Europe, with a huge history. There are many top-quality players at Arsenal and the style of football which the team plays is fantastic."

Despite being feted as a world-class talent thanks to his exploits on the international stage and for his hometown club, Podolski will have a point to prove at Arsenal after flopping in a three-year spell at Bayern Munich.

The announcement of Podolski's signing for an undisclosed fee came just 48 hours after Wenger admitted Arsenal had been too reliant this season on Robin van Persie, who may be more inclined to sign a new contract this summer after this news.

Wenger said: "We are delighted to secure the deal for Lukas Podolski and see him as an important part of our future. He is a top-class player, a very good finisher and a proven performer at club and international level. He is a very strong player and will provide us with good attacking options.

"We are happy to have made this signing early and we're looking forward to watching Lukas contribute at the European Championships over the summer, a level where he has already made 95 caps at the age of 26 - a phenomenal record and just shows his quality as a player."

Arsenal and Cologne waited to announce the deal to avoid impacting on the latter's Bundesliga relegation battle.

Podolski, who started his career at Cologne before rejoining them from Bayern in 2009, told their official website, www.fc-koeln.de: "The move to Arsenal provides a great opportunity for me to gain experience in international competitions at a top European club.

"I have made this decision not against Cologne but for this great opportunity and the good of my own individual development. This was not an easy decision for me at all, as Cologne, our fans and the city are something special for me. I will always carry Cologne in my heart."

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