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Herrera close to United return

Manchester United
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Podolski: I was never leaving Arsenal

Arsene Wenger has played down talk that Arsenal's 5-1 thrashing by Liverpool has set back their title search and has defended Mesut Ozil's performance.

Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski has rubbished reports that Arsene Wenger tried to offload him during the January transfer window.

Cross: Arsenal on the precipice?

Podolski, 28, was linked with a move away from the Gunners last month, having only arrived at the club from Cologne in the summer of 2012.

There was speculation that the Germany international was on his way to Schalke as part of a deal that would see Julian Draxler move the other way.

However, Podolski told Bild: “That was a myth. There was absolutely nothing to it. The coach confirmed it to me. And I also know that there was nothing to it.”

Podolski has not had the most enjoyable of campaigns so far, tearing a muscle in August that ruled him out for nearly four months, while he has been mostly limited to appearances as a substitute for Arsenal since his return to fitness.

But the former Bayern Munich player believes he made the right decision to make the move from his hometown club Cologne, who now play their football in Germany’s second tier.

“Before I made the switch I battled relegation with Cologne for three consecutive years,” Podolski said. “Since 2012 at Arsenal I play in a team with only top players. And the Premier League is still the best league in the world. When you make that step, you need time.”

Podolski also looked ahead to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as he hopes to finish the season in style.

“This year can turn into a wicked year,” he said. “We can win titles with Arsenal, and the World Cup with Germany. Those goals push me. I am now in the best footballing age. And following my injury, I returned to fitness just in time. That gives me the courage and the strength for the next months.”

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