MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 30, 2015: VfL Wolfsburg's Max Kruse in action against Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Jurgen said sorry” – German striker rues last-minute Liverpool transfer collapse

Liverpool had lined up a free transfer for German striker Max Kruse in 2019, only for the heroics of Divock Origi to see them pull out of a deal.

The 2018/19 campaign was a standout one for Jurgen Klopp‘s long-standing front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, who netted 69 goals between them.

But it was ultimately defined by the goals of a player who only spent 669 minutes on the pitch over the course of the entire season.

Origi returned from a quiet loan spell with VfL Wolfsburg and, turning down a move to Wolves, settled back into the squad on Merseyside, going on to score seven times including an iconic brace against Barcelona.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 7, 2019: Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring the fourth goal with team-mates during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Barcelona at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

His second in that Champions League semi-final second leg ultimately changed the course of not only his future, but also that of Kruse, who has recalled the events, as quoted En Son Haber.

“We had been on the phone with Jurgen Klopp since February,” he explained, with a free transfer from Werder Bremen lined up.

“It was like I was transferred to Liverpool, only the signature was missing. It would be the pinnacle of my career.

“However, things developed very differently.”

Kruse added: “The duo of Sturridge and Origi was going to be sold, I was going to sign. That was their plan.

“Then Origi started scoring many goals in the last part of the season. The club changed its mind after these goals.”

It had been reported during the second half of the season that Liverpool were among the clubs pursuing Kruse, with Daniel Sturridge‘s own contract set to expire.

But as the now 34-year-old continued to detail, Origi’s upturn in form prompted him to be let down gently by Klopp himself.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 30, 2015: Manchester United's Chris Smalling in action against VfL Wolfsburg's Max Kruse during the UEFA Champions League Group B match at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Jurgen called me [and said]: ‘Sorry Max. The decision is to keep Origi. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to sign you’,” Kruse said.

“My transfer to Liverpool didn’t happen at the last minute. I was very upset.”

Kruse eventually joined Fenerbahce, only for a dispute over unpaid wages seeing him leave his contract early, after which he headed back to the Bundesliga with Union Berlin.

A return to Bremen followed in January of this year, only for his deal to be mutually terminated at the end of November after a disagreement with manager Niko Kovac.

It is perhaps no surprise, then, that Kruse could feel bitter about the last-minute collapse of his switch to Liverpool – though it may point to a bullet dodged for the Reds.