Robbie Kruse departs Bayer Leverkusen for China
Robbie Kruse in his last Leverkusen appearance against Monaco. | Photo: Bayer Leverkusen

Robbie Kruse has completed his transfer from Bayer Leverkusen to Chinese Super League club Liaoning FC.

The 28-year-old leaves Leverkusen after four years at the club, with injuries prevent him from ever making a major impact. The fee is reported to be around €500,000.

He is joined at the club by fellow Australian international and former MSV Duisburg midfielder James Holland, and will be a teammate of former Werder Bremen players Anthony Ujah and Assani Lukimya.

Injury-hampered time in Germany

Having started his career in the A-League with Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory, the winger signed for Fortuna Düsseldorf in the summer of 2011. A ligament injury limited him to 11 appearances in his first season, but he appeared 30 times the following season after the club's promotion to the Bundesliga, as well as scoring four times.

Despite the club's relegation at the end of that season he did enough to earn himself a transfer to Leverkusen in 2013. He made 15 appearances and scored twice in his first season for the club, mostly from the bench, before a cruciate ligament rupture ruled him out of the entire second half of the season.

The following year he made just four appearances due to continued injury problems, before making a loan move to VfB Stuttgart in 2015 as he looked to regain full fitness. Again though, he was limited to just three league appearances before the loan spell was cut short.

He would be able to make seven appearances for Leverkusen after his return, however this season, he has been limited to three appearances in UEFA Champions League and DFB-Pokal games, making a departure either in January or the end of his contract in the summer somewhat inevitable.

Kruse and Holland join despite new restrictions

Kruse’s arrival at the club based in Shenyang comes at the same time as Holland, with whom he shares an agent. Holland arrives from Adelaide United, who he joined after a one-season spell in Germany with Duisburg last season. He made 29 appearances for the Zebras but his contract expired following their relegation from the 2. Bundesliga.

The twin deals were completed despite new proposed rules that would see the number of foreign players per club limited to three in one game. At present they can have four foreign players, plus an additional Asian player, which includes Australians due to that country’s AFC membership.

They are expected to replace two other Australians, Dario Vidosic and Michael Thwaite, at the club and will be teammates of Ujah and Lukimya, who both left Bremen last year for the riches currently on offer in China.

Liaoning finished tenth in the Chinese Super League last year. They have been champions of China nine times, all before the creation of the current Super League.