Max Kruse has revealed that a prospective move to Liverpool fell through in 2019 after Divock Origi's European exploits helped to change Jurgen Klopp's mind, insisting that he has made peace with his near-miss transfer.
The Union Berlin man, then at Werder Bremen, was on the Reds' radar following an impressive 2018-19 campaign and claims that he was close to sealing an Anfield switch after a string of assured performances.
Fellow striker Origi's Champions League heroics, however - including a 4-0 comeback win over Barcelona in the semi-finals and Liverpool's final victory over Tottenham - put paid to his dream, with the forward stating those performances ensured the plug was pulled on his move.
What has Kruse said?
“Of course, I would have done that," the 32-year-old told Spieltagssiegerbesieger – Der Kickbase Podcast on whether he would have made the move to Merseyside were it not for Origi.
"In my opinion, it was relatively fixed. [Liverpool] actually wanted to give up two strikers.
“Then one scored goals in the Champions League semi-final and final. Then it was over. It was disappointing."
Kruse's relationship with Klopp
The attacker, however, says that he holds no ill-will towards fellow countryman Klopp, adding that he remains in occasional contact with the manager and that he was honoured to have been considered for Liverpool.
“Talking to Jurgen Klopp was awesome," he added. "We spoke on the phone once or twice. Everything is great with him.
"I’m not angry with Jurgen. Every now and then I send him a photo from vacation!"
The bigger picture
Origi's performances at the tail-end of 2019 - including a double in a now-legendary second-leg comeback against Barcelona and the second goal that consolidated victory for Liverpool in Madrid against Spurs - are widely believed to have earned him a stay he otherwise would not have had.
The Belgium international was expected to depart Anfield in search of more regular minutes, and he has remained a fringe player for the club since, behind Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in the pecking order.
Kruse ultimately switched to Fenerbahce on a three-year deal, but returned to Germany just a year later after a dispute over wages, settling at Union Berlin, whom he has helped put in the frame for a top-six finish and European football this season.