Former Germany international Lukas Podolski hinted at turmoil within Vissel Kobe on Thursday, a day after stepping down as captain following the shock departure of manager Juan Manuel Lillo from the J-League first-division club.

In a message to his 3.52 million Twitter followers, the 32-year-old attacker posted, "Stop expecting loyalty from people who can't even give you honesty."

Podolski, who had captained Vissel since last year, relinquished the armband shortly after the club said it had agreed to release Lillo from his contract just seven months into the deal.

In a statement through the club, former Real Sociedad manager Lillo said he had made the "difficult decision" to step down.

"I think this is the best thing for me and my family," the 53-year-old Spaniard said.

The club has named its former manager Takayuki Yoshida as Lillo's replacement.

Despite boasting one of the J-League's most impressive rosters, mid-table Vissel have just three wins this season, along with a draw and three losses, after flirting with relegation last year.

Owned by Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc., Vissel have tried to establish themselves as the J-League's glamour club by signing such big name stars as Andres Iniesta and former Barcelona teammate David Villa last year.

Iniesta and Villa both tweeted messages of support for Lillo late Wednesday.

A number of outlets have speculated that former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas, who most recently managed Chinese club Shanghai SIPG, could be a candidate for the Kobe job.