MUNICH, July 8 (Bundesliga) - Bayern Munich legend Lothar Matthaus believes the club should not stand in Lukas Podolski's way if he has made up his mind to leave.
The striker is unhappy with his lack of first-team opportunities with the German champions and has been strongly linked with a return to former club Cologne.
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and coach Jurgen Klinsmann, though, have stressed the 23-year-old will not be sold.
But Matthaus, who enjoyed 12 years at Bayern over two spells, feels Podolski should be allowed to decide his own future.
He told Munich-based newspaper tz: 'Lukas Podolski wants to play football. He could not do so in the last two years with Bayern.
'Only Klinsmann has a guaranteed starting place in his contract up until now - I don't assume that Podolski will also receive one.
'It is completely normal that Lukas has concerns. I am always of the opinion you should let the player himself decide - not advise them what would be better.
'Podolski has by now some experience. Cologne play in the first division, have ambition and are certainly a club where he will feel more security - because he will receive this warmth that is lacking in Munich.
'A young player, especially Podolski, needs this warmth.'
Podolski was restricted to substitute appearances for much of last season after losing his place up front to summer signings Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni.
He impressed at Euro 2008 in a left-sided role for Germany, but Frenchman Franck Ribery has that position sewn up at Bayern.
Matthaus added: 'It is certainly not an easy decision. Bayern are something special, but Lukas has noticed in the last year in Munich that he, regardless of what happens, does not get the action that he wants.'