Liverpool target Dani Ceballos has admitted he tried to rejoin Real Betis in January after feeling disillusioned at Real Madrid.
The fomer Betis attacking midfielder made just four La Liga starts last season under Zinedine Zidane, but he has said that the Frenchman persuaded him to stay at the Bernabeu.
The 22-year-old, who is rated in the €35m bracket, has been far more involved this time around, already making four league starts in 14 appearances under two coaches – Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari.
Jurgen Klopp is believed to be an admirer of Ceballos, with Don Balon claiming the player snubbed a move to Liverpool in the summer with a return to Betis his preference.
“In January, sincerely, I thought about leaving here and trying to return to Betis, but it could not be done,” Ceballos told El Chiringuito, as cited by El Mundo Deportivo.
“Also (Zinedine) Zidane, in the context of us still being in three different competitions, told me it was a good time to stay. Zidane was the one who told me to stay.
“Being in the best club in the world and with the coach’s support, I think it was fundamental. I played a little more and that has given me a platform this season.
“My Betis exit? The affected one is the player, who seems to be the bad guy in the movie. Everyone thinks that I went out the back door and it is totally false, because I am Bético and when I go to (the Betis stadium, Benito) Villamarín and they whistle at me, it hurts me.
“I think that over four years I gave everything for the team. I was the third most expensive sale in the history of Betis and I think that they do not recognise that.
“Betis had the opportunity to renew my contract and did not, (former Coach Gustavo) Poyet did not play me, the club waited until the last minute to renew.
“I already had interest from important teams at that point and could not reject it.”
Reds boss Klopp is still believed to be looking for a replacement for Philippe Coutinho and tried to sign Lyon No.10 Nabil Fekir in the summer.
Whether or not Ceballos, who arrived at the Bernabeu in a €16m deal from Real Betis in 2017, remains on Klopp’s radar remains to be seen.