by Tom Lees - 12th January 2016
In the summer before the 2014/15 season would start Liverpool sold star player Luis Suárez to Barcelona, using the money received plus a large amount more they would go on to recruit 8 new players on permanent transfers. Some of the higher profile names brought in were that of Mario Balotelli, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana, all of whom garnered large transfer fees. Lambert, Moreno, Markovic and Origi were also signed but it was perhaps one of the lower key signings that became their best bit of incoming business, a young German midfielder of Turkish descent, Emre Can.
Emre Can began his career at German giants Bayern Munich and was mostly used in their reserve side with only a handful of first team appearances. It was clear that he had massive potential, shown not only in his reserve games but also across the various German youth International age groups. This potential was seen by scouts of Bundesliga rivals Bayer Leverkusen and a deal was agreed between the two clubs for his transfer in August 2013. The deal included a potential buy back clause, a tactic often used by Bayern Munich, as a way of keeping a hold on the player while he gained first team experience in Leverkusen.
During his youth career both domestically and Internationally, along with his handful of appearances for Bayern, Emre Can would play in the middle of midfield where he would dictate play. However, his role changed slightly during his time in Leverkusen, instead his versatility would come into effect during the course of the campaign. Sometimes adopting a defensive role, sometimes attacking, he would operate in the middle or sometimes slightly wider, he had become an all action midfielder. Can would only spend one season at the BayArena before transferring to Liverpool in the summer of 2014 for a reported €12 million.
The move to Liverpool came much sooner than most had thought it would, Bayern in particular would not have expected such an early club change when inserting their ‘buy back’ clause and declined the chance to re-sign the midfielder. Some members of the German based media questioned the move, considering Can not quite at the level that was required to play for Liverpool. The performances of the youngster at the Merseyside club however, soon put an end to these question marks.
At first his introduction to first team football at Liverpool stuttered, a couple of substitute appearances followed by an ankle injury meant that his first start for the club didn’t arrive until October 19th 2014. Once playing though his quality began to shine through, able to operate all across midfield and also cover in defence, he was the perfect squad player to have as manager Brendan Rodgers attempted to mould his new look team into a unit. In fact, most of his first season at Anfield was spent operating in an unfamiliar role in defence, either as part of a central three or as full back. Clearly these were positions that didn’t fully make the most of his passing play, and sometimes exposed a naivety in a tackle, but his ability to carry the ball from the back into midfield was of great importance to the team. His performances in defence did impress however, despite the odd occasional off day, and he was rewarded for this with his first senior call up to the Germany squad, making his debut at right back against Poland in September 2015.
After the legendary Steven Gerrard left Liverpool in the summer of 2015 it was Jordan Henderson who took over the role as permanent club captain, however the playing role Gerrard vacated at the club looks set to be taken over by Emre Can. His high energy performances, driving runs through the field, pin point passing and the ability to look powerful and graceful at the same time hark back to the early days of Gerrard’s career. A player too who was able to play in various positions across the pitch with assured ease and quality. He’s a box to box midfielder primarily, but with the intelligence to perform a set team role when required at either end of the pitch. His tackling is getting better with experience and his game reading is already of a high nature for someone so young. The main critique you can label at Can is that his goal threat could improve, he’ll need to add this to his game if he is to become the midfielder Liverpool require him to be.
Internationally he has a bright future in midfield too, where he has already been compared to Michael Ballack and Bastian Schweinsteiger, although competition for places in the German midfield is going to be tough. He is capable of filling a role at right back for Die Mannschaft, but he would be better suited in his preferred position.
Emre Can has the potential to become a Liverpool great, he has the time, has the ability and has the looks of a superstar and now in compatriot Jürgen Klopp he has the ideal new manager to work with. Already in the stands the fans have given him his own song, and look to his talents to drive their team forward. Even rival fans admit that they would love an Emre Can in their team and in an age where team loyalty can rose tint an opinion, this is a fine compliment to give. The future looks golden for Emre Can, both for club and Country, an Anfield hero in the making possibly, a player to lead them to glory once again? Well you never know.