Podolski plays it cool over Schalke interest

Updated: 11 December 2011 22:19 IST

Germany striker Lukas Podolski has said he is keeping his options open with his German league club Cologne eager for him to extend his contract and Bundesliga title contenders Schalke wanting to sign him.

Berlin:

Germany striker Lukas Podolski has said he is keeping his options open with his German league club Cologne eager for him to extend his contract and Bundesliga title contenders Schalke wanting to sign him.

The 26-year-old, who has won 95 caps for Germany, is under contract in Cologne until 2013, dazzled on Saturday with two goals in his side's 4-0 romp against bottom side Freiburg which leaves his team 10th in the table.

It was the fifth time in 16 games he has scored two goals, having also netted twice the weekend before in the 2-2 draw with Stuttgart.

Without him, Cologne would be down towards the relegation zone and Schalke revealed Saturday their interest in signing him.

Cologne's director of sport Volker Finke has said the club will "not under any circumstances, go into next season with him unless he has signed an extension", but Podolski refused to be pressured into any rash decisions.

"Then I'd have to play in the second team or sit me in the stands," said the Germany star, who has scored 13 goals in 14 league games.

"I haven't made any decisions yet."

Last week, both Schalke's director of sport Horst Heldt and chairman Clemens Toennie expressed interest in Podolski, but Cologne's Norwegian coach Stale Solbakken could not resist a dig at the Royal Blues.

"If Lukas should leave, he can certainly go to a better club than Schalke," he said with the Gelsenkirchen-based club second in the Bundesliga only to Bayern Munich.

Finke also took a dig at Schalke's tactics with the Royal Blues yet to talk directly with Podolski.

"The main thing is the conversation," said Finke.

"If (Horst) Heldt says there has been neither contact with the club (Cologne) nor the player, that shows how great the interest really is."

With Spain striker Raul out of contract at Schalke in June, Podolski would make an ideal replacement alongside Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, but he refused to comment on any interest.

"There will always be clubs that are at the front of the crowd, I can't let this affect me and I don't need to constantly comment on them," said Podolski.

With Podolski having spent the bulk of his career at Cologne, to whom he returned in July 2009 after three unhappy seasons at Bayern Munich, Solbakken says the players' love for the club and fans will be a factor.

"Lukas said that he will lead the first meeting with us, he has a heartfelt love for FC Cologne and therefore I think we can keep him," said the Norwegian.

Topics : Football Germany Lukas Podolski Shinji Okazaki Borussia Dortmund Bayern Munchen FC Schalke 04
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