Podolski weighs up Cologne future

Germany striker Lukas Podolski has hinted he could leave Cologne at the end of the season in search of European football.

The 26-year-old told Die Welt newspaper he is getting sick of the off-field problems in Cologne and cannot see his ambition of playing in Europe again being realised if he remains where he is.

"I was told the plan was to get back into Europe here, but we have failed and of course I have to ask myself why," he said.

"Whenever I am with the national team, I always notice people shaking their heads when yet another story emerges from Cologne which has nothing to do with sport."

Podolski was born in Cologne and did all he could to move back to the club after several disappointing years with Bayern Munich, where he got his first taste of Champions League and Europa League football.

However, changes of coaches and problems at board level have disrupted the last few seasons and, although Podolski admits his bond with the city is still strong, he says that does not necessarily mean he will spend the rest of his life there.

"My family and friends may live here and I know every corner of the city, but if I am in top condition, then I think I could fit into any side in Europe," he said.

"I am not forced to stay only in Cologne."

Podolski is almost guaranteed of his place in the Germany squad at Euro 2012 next summer, but that is likely to be the only taste of international football on the horizon if he does not leave Cologne in the summer.