Belfast Telegraph

Podolski to join Gunners

Germany striker Lukas Podolski will join Arsenal for the start of next season, his current club Cologne have confirmed.

The 26-year-old, who has 95 caps for the national team, will move to the Emirates for an undisclosed fee after both clubs and the player reached agreement over the deal.

Podolski told 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."

Podolski, who started his career at Cologne before rejoining them in 2009 after an unhappy three-year spell at Bayern Munich, added on the club's official website: "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. We need to pool our strengths now and have to be fully focused on our survival in the Bundesliga."

The Poland-born forward, who had one year left on his contract with the Bundesliga strugglers, has scored 18 league goals for a side battling relegation so far this term, his best ever top-flight return.

Cologne chairman Claus Horstmann said: "We deeply regret his step, which is not a decision against Cologne but for the good of his own career. Lukas has helped the club in many difficult situations, Lukas has left a mark on Cologne's reputation and we feel the need to thank him for numerous great football experiences at Cologne."

Podolski added: "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.

"I'm proud to become an Arsenal player and am looking forward to playing my first match at Emirates Stadium and doing my best for all the Arsenal fans."

Arsenal manager Arsene 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."

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