Andrej Kramaric has told bundesliga.com he can envisage ending his playing career at Hoffenheim.
The Croatia international, 27, joined Hoffenheim from Leicester City midway through 2015/16 - the same season the Foxes won the English Premier League title - and has gone on to score a club record 48 Bundesliga goals in 107 appearances for the Sinsheim club, usurping Sejad Salihovic in the history books.
"When I joined Hoffenheim or when I was a kid, I never thought I’d be the best striker in the history of some club," Kramaric said when he sat down with bundesliga.com this week. "I’m close to being a club legend like Salihovic. I’ll be happy if I score more goals, make more assists and we have success. I'm really happy here, and I wouldn't complain if I finished my career at Hoffenheim."
Watch: Andrej Kramaric more than happy at Hoffenheim
Needless to say the feeling at Hoffenheim is mutual. When Kramaric arrived in south-west Germany in January 2016, Die Kraichgauer were propping up the rest of the Bundesliga. Five Kramaric goals in 15 matches later, Hoffenheim were safe and their Croatian saviour’s loan deal was made permanent.
Kramaric repaid the faith he hadn’t received in England by netting a team-leading 15 goals in 2016/17 as Hoffenheim muscled their way into the top four and qualified for Europe for the first time. He contributed 13 strikes as Julian Nagelsmann’s side went one better the following campaign, finishing third to qualify directly for the UEFA Champions League groups, and helped Croatia reach the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where they lost 4-2 to France.
"Let’s not forget, Andrej is an international star now," Hoffenheim sporting director Alexander Rosen told bundesliga.com with a smile. "A World Cup finalist, who’s certainly on the radar of other clubs. But he’s so down to earth and so clearly in his element here at Hoffenheim. As they say in English, 'it’s the perfect match!'"
Kramaric is set to make his 125th competitive appearance for Hoffenheim in Sunday’s meeting with Hertha Berlin. He is on a joint-career-best 15 goals for the season, including nine in his last 10 outings. Only Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski has scored more in that time.
"He’s a goalscorer, he’s got very good movement and works hard for the team," said Salihovic, who made 171 Bundesliga appearance for Hoffenheim between 2006 and 2015. "He really puts in the leg work for the goals he scores himself. I think he’ll score a lot more goals for Hoffenheim."
Sadio Mane to wear No.17 shirt
Bayern's superstar signing has picked his jersey number for the new campaign.
Sadio Mane: where will he fit in?
Now that the German champions have bolstered their front line with the signing of Senegalese striker Sadio Mane, bundesliga.com explains how he's a perfect fit in Munich.
Transfers, extensions, returning stars
Mane, Nkunku, Wirtz, Götze… the new Bundesliga campaign is shaping up nicely as clubs attract and keep the biggest stars in the game.