Lukas Podolski
Podolski believes he left Bayern too soon.Reuters

Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski admits he made a mistake in leaving Bayern Munich to return to hometown club Cologne five years ago

The Germany international joined the Bavarian giants in 2006 but soon found himself lost amongst Bayern's plethora of attacking talent and returned to Cologne in 2009.

The 28-year-old has since become an important member of Arsene Wenger's squad following his move to the Premier League in 2011 but the forward admits things could have been very different had he stayed in Munich and played under Jupp Heynckes.

"I believe that if Jupp Heynckes had arrived one or two weeks earlier in 2009, I would probably still be at Bayern now," Podolski told Bild.

"He was desperate to keep me. From a purely sporting perspective, returning to Cologne was certainly not very helpful."

Podolski, who missed much of the first half of the season with a hamstring injury, found himself linked with a return to the Bundesliga during the January transfer window, speculation that intensified during Arsenal's pursuit of Schalke midfielder Julian Draxler.

Reports in both the German and English media suggested the Gunners would use their player as a makeweight in a deal for Draxler, whose €45.5m release clause was met with dismay by Wenger.

However no such move transpired and Podolski insists there was no truth to the rumours. "That was a myth. There was absolutely no truth to it. The coach told me as such, and I knew there was no truth to it."

Podolski could feature against his former club when Arsenal and Bayern meet in the last 16 of the Champions League later this month. Games against the reigning Champions League and Bundesliga holders come amid a demanding fixture schedule, with tonight's clash against Manchester United and an FA Cup clash with Liverpool awaiting the Gunners before the visit of Pep Guardiola's side.