Lukas Podolski to join Arsenal

English Premier League side Arsenal have agreed a deal with 1. FC Köln for the services of top goalscorer Lukas Podolski for next season.

The German club have confirmed that they and the player have agreed terms with the Gunners. The clubs have agreed not to reveal details of the transfer fee.

Executive board chairman Claus Horstmann had a lot of praise for the home town hero:

“We’re proud of the path Lukas Podolski has followed over the years at 1. FC Köln, from the youth system through to his first professional appearances and subsequent development into a highly-coveted German international. In that context we very much regret his decision, which is however in no way a decision against FC, but rather one taken with a view to his own sporting career. We were ready to make him a competitive offer and would gladly have extender terms with Lukas on that basis. Settling the matter at this early stage helps us with our forward planning however, which is good. We’ll use this opportunity to invest the transfer fee in adding quality to the senior team and developing our youth programme. Lukas has helped 1. FC Köln in a lot of situations and played a lead role in defining the face of the club in recent years. We’d like to thank him for the many great football moments he has contributed towards in Köln.”

The German international forward was excited to be joining one of Europe’s elite:

“The move to Arsenal offers me the opportunity to play for a top European club at international level. I haven’t reached a decision that’s against FC, for me this is a great chance to progress as a footballer. It wasn’t an easy choice to make, because 1. FC Köln, the fans and the city all mean something special to me. I’ll always carry FC in my heart. What we all have to do now though is focus everything we have on staying in the Bundesliga.”

Lukas Podolski was 10 years old when he joined the youth ranks at FC Köln, going on to make his debut with the senior team at the age of 18 during the 2003/04 season. After several successful seasons for the Billy Goats, Podolski moved to Bayern Munich at the start of the 2006/07 season but failed to make an impact before rejoining his first club for the 2009/10 season.

Podolski has 18 Bundesliga goals so far this season. In all, he has scored 86 goals in 180 competitive appearances for Köln.

The Polish-born forward has 95 caps for Germany and has been called up to the squads for the Euro 2004, World Cup 2006, Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 tournaments. Podolski scored 3 goals at Euro 2008, including a brace against Poland.