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By ESPN Staff

Cologne confident of sealing Podolski deal

Cologne are hopeful of tying up a deal to sign Lukas Podolski from Bayern Munich by the start of next week.

Officials from both clubs met in Munich today for talks over the deal which is likely to see the Germany striker return to his former club at the end of the season.

A statement on Cologne's official website read: ''On Wednesday there was snap discussion between Cologne and Bayern Munich over a possible transfer of Lukas Podolski.

''Cologne were represented at the talks by two officials, Michael Meier (general manager) and Claus Horstmann (managing director).

''A decision should be made at the start of next week. It was a good and constructive discussion,'' Meier added on the website.

Podolski is keen to agree a move back to Cologne after growing frustrated at his lack of first-team opportunities at the German champions.

The 23-year-old has more often than not had to settle for a place on the bench with coach Jurgen Klinsmann, as his predecessor Ottmar Hitzfeld did last season, favouring Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose up front.

Bayern general manager Uli Hoeness, who was at today's meeting with chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, also revealed the deal was close to completion.

He told Munich's TZ newspaper: ''We won't make details known, but I can say this much: there will be a final decision at the start of next week.''

He added in Cologne's Express newspaper: ''It was a pleasant talk in a good atmosphere. But there is still no decision. We will come together for a final meeting next week. But the inclination is clearly to Cologne.''

Meier had earlier insisted there was still some way to go before a deal was reached, claiming it was not as close as some reports are suggesting.

The main stumbling block is thought to be the transfer fee, with Bayern holding out for 10 million euros, thought to be the the amount they paid for Podolski in 2006.

''The talks have still not finished,'' Meier said in an interview with Die Welt. ''And if there is the impression that all the parties just need to sign on the dotted line, it's not right.

''There has been a massive hype created. But the hype has nothing to do with the real situation. There is no need to rush.''

Although Cologne only won promotion back to the Bundesliga last term, Meier insists there is no chance of the club not being able to afford Podolski.

''If we had not been sure that we were in the position to afford such a transfer, we would not have begun the talks about a transfer,'' he said.

''Certainly the whole thing is for us, as a newly-promoted club, a very ambitious undertaking. But we believe that the transfer will be worth it. Not only in a sporting sense, but also with regards to the image of Cologne.

''The club has a face again, through a player who is authentic and marketable.''


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