Premier League

Wenger thrilled by Podolski coup

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says Lukas Podolski is an "important" signing.
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Arsene Wenger declared Lukas Podolski "an important part of our future" after Arsenal officially confirmed the signing of the Germany striker.

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The deal was finally out in the open yesterday as the Gunners and Cologne announced Podolski was moving to the Emirates Stadium after Euro 2012.

As well as being a shrewd signing on its own merits, Podolski's arrival could have arguably the more important knock-on effect of convincing Robin van Persie to commit his future to Arsenal this summer.

Manager Wenger, who admitted on Saturday that the Gunners had been too reliant on Van Persie this season, said: "We are delighted to secure the deal for Lukas Podolski and see him as an important part of our future.

"He is a top-class player, a very good finisher and a proven performer at club and international level.

"He is a very strong player and will provide us with good attacking options.

"We are happy to have made this signing early and we're looking forward to watching Lukas contribute at the European Championships over the summer, a level where he has already made 95 caps at the age of 26 - a phenomenal record and just shows his quality as a player.''

Despite being feted as a world-class talent thanks both to his exploits on the international stage and for his hometown club, Podolski will have a point to prove at Arsenal after flopping in a three-year spell at Bayern Munich.

But he had no qualms about testing himself at another of Europe's giants, saying: "I'm so happy to be joining Arsenal Football Club and to play in the Premier League.

"Arsenal is one of the top clubs in Europe, with a huge history. There are many top-quality players at Arsenal and the style of football which the team plays is fantastic.

"I'm proud to become an Arsenal player and am looking forward to playing my first match at Emirates Stadium and doing my best for all the Arsenal fans.''

Arsenal and Cologne waited until yesterday to announce the deal to avoid impacting on the latter's Bundesliga relegation battle.

Podolski, who started his career at Cologne before rejoining them from Bayern in 2009, told their official website, fc-koeln.de: "The move to Arsenal provides a great opportunity for me to gain experience in international competitions at a top European club.

"I have made this decision not against Cologne but for this great opportunity and the good of my own individual development.

"This was not an easy decision for me at all, as Cologne, our fans and the city are something special for me. I will always carry Cologne in my heart.

"We need to pool our strengths now and have to be fully focused on our survival in the Bundesliga.''

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