It has been just seven months since Freiburg’s sporting director Dirk Dufner admitted that Max Kruse would be departing the club, less than a year after moving to them from FC St. Pauli. Incidentally, he would go to their rivals, Borussia Mönchengladbach, for €5 million (£2.2M). “That will happen with certainty.” said Duffer to German TV channel SPORT1 in April this year. He agreed terms with Die Föhlen on a four-year deal. Three clubs in the space of 18 months is a little peculiar, but Kruse is clearly ambitious. It came after Marco Reus and Dante’s departures for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern München respectively, both having been integral figures to their club’s lineups since moving, but the 25-year-old’s move has paid dividends to both himself and to Gladbach.
Now he is involved in the national setup once again, something he caught glimpses of this past summer. Löw called him up to Germany’s friendlies against Ecuador and United States, responding with a goal and two assists. Since then he has gone on to play a further three times and hop onto Germany’s World Cup qualifying freight train, a relatively comfortable one that collected nine wins and a draw. He could be in for his sixth cap against England should Mr Löw decide to bring him on from the bench, or even start him.
But it’s all going to plan for Kruse though. In July, after completing his transfer, he spoke of his long-term aspirations with Der Westen. When asked about what was the crucial factor in his decision, despite interest from other clubs, he said: “It was relatively early in the season [when I decided to move to Mönchengladbach] because I believe that something can arise in the coming years. We want to establish ourselves constantly in the top third of the table and play [in the Champions League] again next year.”
He even drew comparisons between his new coach Lucien Favre and Christian Streich, highlighting the similarities in their “tactical direction” which is both noticeable “during training and on the sidelines at a game.” “For the coach, it is important to be very flexible as I can be used in several positions as a player. He wants to make me a better player and I want him to help me in my development. In preparation, he gets an idea of where he wants to put me. We have many offensive players, and the coach must decide who he uses in the first game.” he added.
To his credit, the striker doesn’t hide his ambitions. Determined and very goal-orientated, ‘Maserati Max’ (nickname originates from his Freiburg days) continues to labour in making himself better, constantly. But he yearns for success. His physical game has been refined very well, possesses strong technique and has grown into key figure in Favre’s team. When the international break has subsided Favre will have the task of forging a result away to a jittery Stuttgart, certainly at home anyway.
The Swiss will be keen for both Kruse and Brazilian striker Raffael, arguably one of the league’s (and Europe’s) most productive front pairings, to continue their fruitful duopoly. Their 24 league appearances have mustered 12 goals and eight assists. Should a chasing Wolfsburg who are breathing down their neck in fifth stutter away to Nürnberg like Leverkusen, who have an impressive Hertha Berlin to play visitors to, they will come within three points of third place. A top three finish would guarantee them a group stage Champions League berth.
Amidst Löw’s stifling of claims for him to include Stefan Keißling into the national setup ahead of his solid club form, he has been impressed with one of the league’s most popular players at the moment. Speaking to BILD, he said: “Kruse has convinced me with his playing style on the trip to America [in June]. He has great ball control, he is incredibly strong, very agile and scores goals, even now at Gladbach. He has made a big step forward.”