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Forget about China: Lukas Podolski signs €5m/year deal to move to Japan

German World Cup winner will join Vissel Kobe this summer.

Payday: Podolski, right, with German team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger of Manchester United.
Payday: Podolski, right, with German team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger of Manchester United.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

GERMAN WORLD CUP winner Lukas Podolski has joined Japan’s Vissel Kobe, bucking a trend of big-name players moving to cash-rich China.

The 31-year-old forward, who has played for Turkey’s Galatasaray since 2015, is expected to arrive in Japan in June.

Kobe did not give immediate details of the deal on Thursday, although Podolski is understood to have signed a three-year contract worth over €14 million.

The veteran of three World Cups confirmed the switch on his Instagram account.

“I can confirm that at the end of this season I will join Vissel Kobe from the J-League in Japan,” he wrote alongside a photograph of himself in a Galatasaray shirt and holding two burning flares.

“It’s not a decision against Galatasaray, it’s a decision I made for a new challenge, and I will explain more when the time is right,” he said.

poldi

Podolski, who joined Galatasaray from Arsenal via a loan spell at Inter Milan, cost Kobe an estimated transfer fee of around €2.8m.

The former Germany international’s decision to choose Japan comes as a surprise with many big-name footballers now moving to China for megabucks in the twilight of their careers.

It also represents something of a coup for the J-League, which used to attract luminaries such as Zico and Gary Lineker when it began in 1993 but has struggled to attract marquee players in recent years.

“We are delighted to welcome such a world-class striker to Kobe,” Vissel president Hiroshi Mikitani said in a statement.

“We expect big things from Podolski, who has played for some of Europe’s top clubs, as part of Kobe’s bid to win the title.”

Update 14.43: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Podolski as Germany’s top international goalscorer; that is Miroslav Klose.

© – AFP 2017

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