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Hoffenheim looking for replacement striker

Hoffenheim looking for replacement striker

Surprise Bundesliga leader Hoffenheim is looking for a striker to replace leading scorer Vedad Ibisevic, who could miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee in a friendly.
A final diagnosis of Ibisevic's injury was still pending Thursday, but team officials said he apparently partially tore the anterior cruciate right ligament of his right knee.
"It's clear that we'll have to step up the search if the injury is confirmed," coach Ralf Rangnick said from Spain.
Ibisevic, who tops the Bundesliga with 18 goals, flew Thursday to Germany from Spain, where Hoffenheim has been preparing for the second half of the season that kicks off in the last weekend of January.
The Bosnia striker was scheduled to be examined at the university clinic in Heidelberg.
Ibisevic's goals have played a major role in promoted Hoffenheim's rise to the top. At the halfway mark, Hoffenheim leads on goal difference from defending champion Bayern Munich. Ibisevic said earlier this week that he was likely to extend his contract with Hoffenheim, which expires at the end of next season.
Many experts thought Ibisevic would threaten Gerd Mueller's record of 40 goals in a season, set in 1971-72.
He was injured during Hoffenheim's 2-0 loss in a friendly in Spain against Bundesliga rival Hamburger SV. Both teams are there to prepare for the second half of the season.
Hoffenheim manager Jan Schindelmeiser, who is responsible for transfers, said even a partial tear would mean a long break for Ibisevic.
"There is not much difference in the treatment," he said.
Schindelmeiser expected Ibisevic to be out of the game for at least six months. If an operation was necessary, it would be done as soon as possible, he said.
"Now we have to concentrate on the huge gap that will be left by Ibisevic," Schindelmeiser said, adding that signing a forward on loan was also a possibility.
Coach Rangnick said the new striker could be older than the 24-year-old Ibisevic.
"But he has to have proven qualities as a striker and has to fit into the club as a person and financially as well," Rangnick said.
Hoffenheim, a small provincial club backed by a software billionaire, usually signs young, little-known players. The team played in the third division two seasons ago.
Another striker, Nigeria's Chinedu Obasi, is recovering from a thigh muscle tear and is likely to miss the opening match of the season half of the season, against Energie Cottbus on Jan. 31, which also marks the opening of Hoffenheim's new 30,000-seat stadium in Sinsheim.


Updated : 2021-07-31 18:30 GMT+08:00