German World Cup winner Lukas Podolski has formally joined Japan ’ s Vissel Kobe , the J – League club said Thursday , bucking a trend of big -name players moving to cash – rich China .
The 31 – year – old forward , who has played for Turkey ’ s Galatasaray since 2015 , is expected to arrive in Japan in June .
Kobe did not give immediate details of the deal, although Podolski is understood to have signed a three-year contract worth $ 15 million .
Podolski , who joined Galatasaray from English Premier League club Arsenal, via a loan spell at Inter Milan , cost Kobe an estimated transfer fee of around $ 3 million .
The former Germany international ’ s decision to choose Japan comes as a surprise with many big – name footballers now moving to China for mega – bucks in the twilight of their careers .
It also represents something of a coup for the J – League , which used to attract luminaries such as Zico and Gary Lineker when it began in 1993 but has struggled to attract marquee players in recent years .
“ We are delighted to welcome such a world – class striker to Kobe , ” Vissel president Hiroshi Mikitani said in a statement .
“ We expect big things from Podolski , who has played for some of Europe ’ s top clubs , as part of Kobe ’ s bid to win the title. ”
Last December , Argentine forward Carlos Tevez became the latest foreign star to move to China when he signed for Super League side Shanghai Shenhua worth an eye – watering $ 84 million in wages over two years .
The former Manchester City and Juventus striker joined a slew of overseas stars lured by increasingly lavish sums that have triggered a backlash from Chinese authorities .
Podolski , who is set to continue to play for Galatasaray until the end of the Turkish season , himself had initially been linked with a big – money move to China ’ s Beijing Guoan .
The German has been troubled by niggling injuries in Istanbul and endured a lean spell in front of goal , while Galatasaray could only finish sixth last season .
The Turkish powerhouse currently occupies third , 10 points behind table -topping rivals Besiktas .
Podolski announced his international retirement last year after scoring 48 goals in 129 appearances for the world champions .
He also played a part in Germany ’ s 2014 World Cup triumph in Brazil , although not as a first – choice striker .
As if to prove age is no barrier to success , Podolski even reached the top of the German pop charts last December with the rap song ‘ Liebe deine Stadt ’ ( Love Your City ), recorded with hip hop star Mo – Torres and the band Cat Ballou.