World Cup winning striker Lukas Podolski has said that he has not closed the door on a potential return to his homeland with a Bundesliga team. Podolski, 33, is currently plying his trade in Japan as the captain of J1 League side Vissel Kobe alongside fellow World Cup winners David Villa and Andres Iniesta.
While a stint in Asian leagues represents the final chapter for many older players, Lukas Podolski doesn’t see any reason why he couldn’t still put in a shift in Germany’s top flight. “Why not?” said the forward when asked about the possibility by Cologne fanzine effzeh.com. “I’m healthy and I feel completely fit and I want to play for a few more years.”
Podolski has never been one to shy away from a new challenge or a move to new surroundings: He has now played in five countries for six different clubs, capturing silverware in Turkey and England with Galatasaray and Arsenal respectively, winning the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich, and securing promotion from Bundesliga 2 with his beloved Cologne.
Cologne is a city that loves Podolski and a city Podolski loves. His face is plastered on the sides of buildings, he owns shares in an ice cream parlour and a kebab shop, and Cologne shirts with his name (and sometimes signature) are proudly displayed in many shop windows. With the Billy Goats currently sitting second in the second tier, just one point behind Hamburg, and looking likely to make an immediate return to the top level, returning to help his boyhood club avoid relegation next season would seem a perfect fit.
However, Podolski refused to give a direct answer to the question of a third stint in his hometown, “I’m often asked about that. Everyone knows my opinion, but I don’t want to repeat myself every day.” The former international is not itching for a move away, either, with the land of the rising sun seeming to agree with him. “I have a contract this year and I’m feeling really good in Japan, so I think that in June, July, I’ll be back with my club.”
The 2019 Japanese season is yet to kick off and Podolski may stay in Kobe to help Vissel improve on last season’s 10th place finish and add to his tally of 12 goals in 44 appearances for the club. “Let’s see what happens.”
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