Cologne - In yet another affirmation of the Bundesliga's global pulling power, Hertha Berlin newcomer Salomon Kalou says he quite happily turned down a number of offers from elsewhere to join the league of the world champions.
The 29-year-old left French club LOSC Lille to put pen to paper on a three-year deal in the capital towards the end of the transfer window, later telling German tabloid Bild all about his burning desire to play in football's most talked about division.
"Everyone wants to play in the Bundesliga after the World Cup," enthused the Ivorian international. "I'm no different. I spoke with plenty of my international team-mates about Germany and they only had good things to say. Hertha play really great, attacking football and I love a challenge!"
Having won eight titles during his time at Chelsea FC between 2006 and 2010, Kalou admits he wasn't exactly short of summer suitors, but says his mind was effectively made up after speaking to Hertha tactician and fellow Dutch speaker Jos Luhukay. "I was really impressed," he recalled. "I got this feeling he'll make me into a better player."
Competition for places
The deal to bring the well-travelled striker to the capital represents the Old Lady's 13th transaction of an eventful summertime market, which has already seen the likes of Julian Schieber, Roy Beerens, Genki Haraguchi and Valentin Stocker come in to beef up Hertha's attack following Adrian Ramos' move to Borussia Dortmund.
"Centre forward's my favourite position," Kalou said with a smile. "I played out wide for Chelsea, but that's because they had too many strikers. At the end of the day, though, I just want to help the team. I haven't set myself any goals. The important thing is that the team's successful."
That said, Hertha's capacity to improve on last season's 11th-place finish will likely hinge on their latest recruit's ability to settle into the Bundesliga way; something the multilingual frontman has no qualms about whatsoever.
"I already know a bit of German from my time at Feyenoord," Kalou revealed. "On top of that, Berlin's a multicultural, fun place to be much like London. I'm going to love it here. I can't wait to make my debut in a Hertha shirt at the magnificent [Olympiastadion]!"