FC Bayern München striker Lukas Podolski will return to his first club, 1. FC Köln, at the end of the season, with the German international saying: "I'm happy that a decision has now been made about my sporting future."
The 23-year-old was at Köln from 1996 until joining Bayern in 2006, and has signed a four-year deal with his old team which will bind him until 2013, provided the Rhine-based club avoid relegation from the Bundesliga. The 60-times capped international said: "I'm happy that a decision has now been made about my sporting future and that there won't be any further speculation about me. I'm totally convinced by Köln's plans and I'm looking forward to the new challenge, but until the summer my whole focus will be on Bayern."
No transfer fee details have been released, but reports suggest that around €10m will change hands, with much of the fee being financed by a friendly game between the two clubs. Köln president Wolfgang Overath said: "I'm happy Lukas is coming back to us. He has followed his heart. I'm happy we have managed to bring a German international to a newly-promoted team. I think we found a good solution for all three parties – Lukas Podolski, Bayern and Köln."
Podolski has not carved a niche at Bayern since moving to Munich in 2006, scoring 12 goals in 58 top-flight games. He made only nine 90-minute appearances in that time and, having failed to make his presence felt in the first team, could not replicate the form that helped him score 46 goals in 81 league games for Köln. He will nonetheless be eager to end his spell in Munich on a high, with Bayern level on points with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at the top of the Bundesliga table and a UEFA Champions League first knockout round tie against Sporting Clube de Portugal kicking off in Lisbon on 25 February.
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