Former Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski announces he is leaving Galatasaray to join Vissel Kobe in Japan

The former German international will move to the J League at the end of the current season

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Former Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski has announced that he will move to Japan at the end of the current season.

The 31-year-old forward, who was part of Germany’s World Cup winning squad in 2014, confirmed on Instagram that he is due to move to J1 side Vissel Kobe from Turkish club Galatasaray on a multiyear contract.

"It is not a decision against Galatasaray, it is a decision I made for a new challenge, and I will explain more when the time is right,” he said.

“But right now my only focus is helping Galatasaray and our fantastic fans!"

Podolski is the biggest name to arrive in the J-League since Uruguayan striker Diego Forlan, who played for Cerezo Osaka from 2014-15. Dunga and Dragan Stojković also starred in the league during the late 90s.

In a statement posted on the team's official website, Vissel Kobe's president Hiroshi Mikitani added: "We have high expectations that Podolski can help Vissel Kobe win the championship."

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The forward spent three seasons with Arsenal (Getty)

The Poland-born striker came through the ranks at Cologne and had a second stint at the club after three years with Bayern Munich between 2006 and 2009.

He joined Arsenal in 2012 from the Bundesliga club but failed to hold down a regular first-team place in north London, managing 11 goals in his first Premier League season and only 8 the year after.

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Podolski then departed for Inter Milan on loan before spending two successful seasons in the Süper Lig with Galatasaray.

He quit the national team in August 2016. His 129 appearances make him the third most-capped player in German history, while his 48 goals make him the third-highest goalscorer in Germany history, behind only Gerd Müller and Miroslav Klose. 

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