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By ESPN Staff

Cologne ready to step up chase for Podolski

Cologne have confirmed for the first time that they are going to try and bring unsettled Bayern Munich striker Lukas Podolski back to the club this winter.

Cologne have made no secret of their desire to re-sign the Germany international, who made a name for himself before joining Bayern two years ago. And the player would like nothing more than to re-join the team from his home town.

However, he has been told by Bayern bosses that he must stay at the club and coach Jurgen Klinsmann confirmed last night that he needed four strikers for the second half of the season and that Podolski "will have to get used to the situation".

At the same time, Cologne president Wolfgang Overath was telling club members at their Annual General Meeting that they are preparing a bid to sign him.

"We will do everything and that means everything within our means to bring the lad back home," he revealed. "We have been doing our homework."

General manager Michael Meier confirmed that talks "have recently been held between Cologne and Bayern and Cologne and Podolski", setting the wheels in motion on a spectacular winter transfer.

"We are now waiting for a signal," he added.

Cologne have first refusal on Podolski and Bayern have promised to let them know as soon as the player becomes available. That seemed to be the case after they signed Landon Donovan last week, but his arrival will not necessarily open the door to Podolski's departure.

Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness recently ruled out any more transfer dealings this winter and said his side are concentrating solely on who to buy or sell next summer.

Klinsmann showed sympathy for Podolski, whose absence from the team sheet against Steaua Bucharest was officially put down to a bad back. "We all feel for him," he said. "I was a striker myself and I know exactly what he is thinking."

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