Lukas Podolski open to Cologne move once Arsenal contract ends

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Lukas Podolski has opened the door to leaving Arsenal for free when his contract runs out in 2016.

The German forward was linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium this summer, but has since forced his way back into Arsene Wenger's plans.

However, Podolski, 28, has hinted that he is already plotting his north London exit when his contract expires and sees a return to former club Cologne as a distinct possibility.

Podolski, who has over 100 caps for Germany, has enjoyed two spells at his hometown club and has frequently gone back to visit them when given the chance.

Arsenal fans were not surprised to hear that he was, again, at the stadium this week to give an interview to German reporters. During that interview Podolski was open-minded when asked if a return to the Bundesliga club was on the cards.

In fact, he said that he could well leave Arsenal for free, returning to Cologne to finish his career.

"I am under contract at Arsenal for another two years," Podolski said to reporters.

"What will happen then, we will see.

"It would be too early to retire at 31, I want to play for a few more years.

"We'll see if it will be down there on that pitch. Maybe we will all meet again for a news conference in these rooms."

Podolski has had two decent season for Arsenal, hitting 12 goals this season and 16 in the last. However, he has only just begun to earn Wenger's trust.

He is believed to be in Wenger's plans for next season despite being linked with a move to Schalke as part of a swap deal with Julian Draxler.

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