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Mancini, Ronaldo sway Inter switch for Podolski

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PODOLSKI-GALA

MILAN, Italy, January 8 – Roberto Mancini’s powers of persuasion and some tidbits of advice from Brazilian icon Ronaldo swayed Lukas Podolski in his decision to join Inter Milan on loan from Arsenal, the German World Cup winner said Thursday.

Podolski, who scored 31 goals in 82 appearances for Arsenal after arriving from Cologne in the summer of 2012, was officially unveiled by the Italian giants on Thursday days after completing his loan deal until the end of the season when he could move to the club permanently.

The 29-year-old said he can’t wait to help the struggling Serie A giants, currently 11th in Italy’s top flight, achieve their objective of qualifying for next season’s Champions League after a three-year absence.

But he admitted Mancini’s powers of persuasion, as well as a telephone call with former Inter striker Ronaldo, was decisive.

“I had three of four options on the table but Mancini being here was decisive for me,” Podolski told reporters.

“Inter are a top club. The welcome I’ve had since I came here has been unbelievable.”

He added: “Everyone knows Ronaldo… he’s my idol, of course I asked him a bit about Inter.

“Now I am here and my aim is to help the club. It’s crucial to focus on the challenge that lies ahead: Champions League football.

“Obviously it’ll be a disappointment if we don’t qualify. We know the situation now is not good. We have to fight in every single game to make sure we finish in third place.”

Podolski had recently been given scant playing time by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, but thanked the Premier League club for giving him the chance to get back to playing regularly again.

“I want to thank Arsenal,” added Podolski. “I decided to make the switch because Inter offered me the chance. I’m feeling great about the move.”

If all goes well, Podolski’s time at Inter — where he could soon team up with Bayern Munich forward Xherdan Shaqiri, if his loan deal is confirmed — could also boost his chances of cementing a place in Joachim Loew’s German national team.

“I spoke with Joachim Loew about my move to Inter and we think it could help my job for National Team,” added Podolski.

Podolski made his debut for Inter after coming off the bench Tuesday to help secure a 1-1 draw away to champions Juventus.

He is expected to make his San Siro debut when Inter host high-flying Genoa on Sunday.

The signing of Podolski as well as the possible arrival of Shaqiri could, meanwhile, prompt the departure of Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, according to reports.

Osvaldo, on loan from Southampton after a largely fruitless five-month loan spell with Juventus last season, has struggled for playing time under Mancini and former Inter coach Walter Mazzarri since arriving at the club in the summer.

An incident during a 1-1 draw with Juventus on Tuesday — when he made rude gestures at teammate Mauro Icardi and Mancini — has led to speculation the Argentine-born player could be on his way out of the club.

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