Schalke 04 and Ukraine star Yevhen Konoplyanka has confirmed that Stoke City did try to sign him this summer.
The winger had been a major target for Potters boss Mark Hughes, who made attempts to lure him to Stoke two years ago, before he joined Sevilla from Dnipro.
He only stayed in Spain for a year, however, leaving for Schalke on loan after helping the Spanish side win the Europa League. Things took a sour turn as he fell out with coach Markus Weinzierl, who was forced to sign him on a permanent basis after the end of the season due to a clause in the deal.
The player even went as far as calling the manager a 'coward' who would get the club relegated if he remained in charge of the German side.
"He is a coward," Konoplyanka said to Ukraine's Football Hub back in June, as quoted by per the Stoke Sentinel. "He will not stay as the coach of this team, otherwise Schalke will drop to the second tier.
"We talked through a translator. He told me I should look for a new club and I told him: 'Listen, you believe you'll be here longer than me?'
"If I could have said more, I would have asked him more questions. Why is it not possible to talk in advance and explain everything, that's cowardly."
Weinzierl was prepared to sell the 27-year-old by that point, and Stoke, having lost Marko Arnautovic to West Ham, were keen on making a move for him.
But the club's board decided to sack the manager and replace him with Domenico Tedesco, who has made Konoplyanka a key part of the side.
“I decided to stay in the squad after seeing Schalke's new coach Tedesco,” the player explained.
The new coach has been rewarded by some fine form from Konoplyanka, who has already scored three goals in his first three games this season.
Yet Stoke can be quite satisfied with their loan signing of Jese Rodriguez, whose goal helped them to a big win over Arsenal last month.