Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has poured cold
water on reports Germany forward Lukas Podolski was set to be sold
to Cologne for 15 million euros. "There is no question of
selling Podolski to Cologne," he declared.
"I called my counterpart to tell him clearly. It is a definite decision," added Rummenigge, who claimed reports on both the Sport-Bild and Sport1 websites were "a big joke".
Wednesday's edition of magazine Sport-Bild said Podolski was going to rejoin newly-promoted Cologne, whom he left to play for Bayern after the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™. The 23-year-old has scored 28 times in 54 internationals, including three in six starts at UEFA EURO 2008 during Germany's run to the final.
But he was largely frustrated to spend most of last season on the bench in Munich behind Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni, and made just four league starts as Bayern did the German league and cup double. New Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann has nonetheless said there may well be a role for both Podolski and midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger in his side.
"He, like Bastian Schweinsteiger, still has enormous potential," said Klinsmann, who took over from Ottmar Hitzfeld on 1 July. "It is impressive to see what they have already achieved at 23, but they still can progress further. But I can give no player a guarantee they are definitely in the side. We are one of the ten biggest clubs in the world, in each position there are about three players who could take that place."
Podolski joined the Bundesliga champions for ten million euros from Cologne. English Premier League sides Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City have expressed an interest in signing him, as have Juventus in Italy. And Werder Bremen and Stuttgart have also signalled an interest in the player, although 'Poldi' has never made a secret of his desire to play for Cologne again one day.
"At the European Championships, I showed what I can
do," said Podolski, who started all of Germany's EURO 2008
games in an attacking midfielder role. And giving the clearest
indication of his priorities, he said during last month's
tournament: "Everything is possible. I have a contract with
Bayern but everyone knows Cologne is a club apart in my eyes.
"Playing is more important for me than titles," he added.