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Japanese J1 League
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Lukas Podolski targets Champions League after signing for Vissel Kobe

Japanese club Vissel Kobe rolled out the red carpet for German striker Lukas Podolski on Thursday, hoping the high-profile signing will improve their fortunes in the J-League.

Arriving by charter plane at Kobe Airport, Podolski was greeted by a large group of supporters eager to get a glimpse of the World Cup-winning striker.

"The first target is to fight for the first three places [in the J-League] and to qualify for the Champions League," Podolski said. "I think as well it is a nice challenge for me to see other countries and play against other big teams."

Podolski has moved from Galatasaray and signed a deal estimated to be worth $5.3 million.

Kobe lost 5-0 to Kawasaki Frontale last weekend and are 11th at the halfway stage of the season, 13 points behind leaders Kashima Antlers.

Podolski scored 48 goals for Germany and played in three World Cups. He is the highest-profile J-League import since Uruguay striker Diego Forlan, who played for Cerezo Osaka between 2014 and 15.

Kobe had hoped Podolski would leave Galatasaray early and join them before the start of the Japanese season, but he stayed until the end of the Turkish season.

Podolski is set to make his debut on July 29 in a home game against struggling Omiya Ardija.

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