TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have confirmed they have re-signed Vincenzo Grifo, three years after selling him to SC Freiburg.
He joins from Borussia Mönchengladbach, for a reported fee of €5.5 million, having struggled to make a breakthrough at Borussia Park.
He has signed a four-year contract with Julian Nagelsmann’s side, and is their fourth signing of the summer.
A key asset for Freiburg, if not Gladbach
Grifo made just 12 appearances for Hoffenheim in his first spell, all in the 2012-13 season. Following those, he was loaned out to Dynamo Dresden and FSV Frankfurt, and he impressed for the latter, who were then in the 2. Bundesliga. He scored seven goals and created nine more in 33 appearances, with an additional assist in the DFB-Pokal against his parent club – albeit in a 5-1 defeat.
That form convinced Freiburg to snap him up following their relegation to the second tier, and he made an instant impact for them. He set up two goals in the sensational season-opener against 1. FC Nürnberg, eventually scoring 14 goals with 15 assists for the eventual champions.
He remained a key contributor the following season in the Bundesliga, scoring six times and contributing 11 assists as the club qualified for Europe in the first season back in the top flight. He moved onto Gladbach last summer, but struggled to win a place in their side, having just the four assists to show for his season in the end.
“Like coming home”
The 25-year-old has said that the move back to Hoffenheim “feels a bit like coming home.” He commented on the progress the club has made since he left, and added that he is “burning to get back in action here” with “an excited year ahead.”
Meanwhile Hoffenheim’s director of football Alexander Rosen praised Grifo’s “technical quality, tactical wit and outstanding shot-power.” He described him as “a versatile attacking player” who will “bring important characteristics to our squad,” regardless of a disappointing season for the former Italy under-20 international.
He is the fourth new arrival for Nagelsmann’s team this summer, following Leonardo Bittencourt, Ishak Belfodil and Joshua Brenet, as they looked to strengthen ahead of the maiden UEFA Champions Leauge campaign this coming season and build on two-consecutive top-four finishes in the Bundesliga.
Meanwhile Gladbach have also let go of Raúl Bobadilla after a year, with the striker going to Argentina to join Argentinos Juniors. They have though signed 18-year-old striker Torben Müsel from 1. FC Kaiserslautern.
Quotes via TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Bundesliga.