TSG to loan Grifo to SC Freiburg
Vincenzo Grifo is to return to former club SC Freiburg for the next six months. TSG Hoffenheim have agreed to loan the midfielder to their domestic rivals until 30 June this year. The 25-year-old previously spent a couple of years in Freiburg between 2015 and 2017, making 61 appearances and scoring 20 goals for the Breisgau club. Grifo, a recent Italy debutant, will return to TSG Hoffenheim, where he has a contract until 30 June 2022, once the loan spell is over.
It is not the first time Vincenzo Grifo has returned to a former club: the midfielder had already enjoyed a spell at TSG before rejoining from Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer. "Vince" previously played for the Kraichgau club between 2012 and 2015 before joining SC Freiburg. "Vince is a highly talented player, who has not been able to perform the role he expects of himself in the first six months since rejoining us following what was a complicated season for him in Gladbach," said TSG Hoffenheim sporting director Alexander Rosen. However, Rosen did point to the fact that there had been several new signings in the recent past who also needed some time before finding their feet in Sinsheim. "Despite the strong demand, it was consequently not initially in our plans to send the player out on loan." But Grifo himself believes that the familiar surroundings he knows so well in Freiburg offer him significantly more opportunities to get himself back on top form. Ultimately, the TSG officials agreed to a loan, as "all the conditions were met to our absolute satisfaction," explained Rosen.
Vincenzo Grifo has made a total of 66 Bundesliga appearances for TSG Hoffenheim, SC Freiburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach, scoring seven goals in total. He has also played 77 second-tier matches, scoring 22 goals, and eight cup ties (three goals). Additionally, he made a brief appearance in the Champions League. Grifo made his debut for the Italian team against USA on 20 November 2018.
"kicker" Ranking List: Baumann & Bicakcic are "Players in focus"
Oliver Baumann and Ermin Bicakcic have been listed among the best players in their position by "kicker" as a reward for their strong performances in the first half of the season. Both Hoffenheim players made the "Players in focus" category in the magazine's German Football Ranking List.
"kicker" wrote of Ermin Bicakcic: "The most stable Hoffenheim centre-back, has impressed as a tough tackler and improved his build-up play."
Gregor Kobel joins FC Augsburg on loan
TSG Hoffenheim goalkeeper Gregor Kobel will join domestic rivals FC Augsburg for the next six months after the two clubs agreed a loan deal for the player. The 21-year-old Swiss shot-stopper has a contract with TSG Hoffenheim that ties him to the club until 30 June 2020.
"Gregor not only has a lot of talent, but he is extremely ambitious and − in the best sense of the word − impatient too. Consequently, this loan will offer him the opportunity to prove himself in a different environment," said Hoffenheim's sporting director Alexander Rosen. "Gregor has developed enormously in his four and a half years at TSG and this is another step on the path to achieving his ambitious objectives," Rosen added.
Kobel joined the TSG youth academy from Grashopper Zurich in 2014 and made his professional debut for the Kraichgau club in a 1-0 DFB Cup victory in Erfurt on 12 August 2017. He has since made three further appearances in the DFB Cup, one in the Bundesliga (in the 3-1 win at Hannover in the first half of this season) and one in the Europa League (in the 1-1 draw with Ludogorets last term). Kobel's huge potential has seen him named in the squad for the Swiss senior side, having previously represented his homeland between the sticks a total of 25 times at youth level.
A replacement for Kobel from another club is not expected to be brought in once TSG Hoffenheim kick off their mid-season preparations on 7 January. "We have exciting talents in our academy and we want to give them the chance to prove themselves before deciding on our goalkeeping team for the second half of the season," explained Alexander Rosen. "In this position in particular, we've had good experiences with this approach in the recent past," continued Rosen, citing the examples of Marvin Schwäbe (now the first-choice goalkeeper at Brondby, one of the top Danish teams based in Copenhagen) and Kobel. Both of them progressed through the TSG youth ranks before being drafted into the senior squad.