In his debut article, Matthew Johnson suggests that Emre Can could become one of the top midfielders in the Premier League.
Emre Can, the German dynamo who joined Liverpool in 2014 became a fan favourite very quickly. At the age of 22 he is seen by many to have a bright future in front of him.
The 2015/16 season was a much better and more successful campaign for the German international compared to his first year at the club. He struggled to convince former manager Brendan Rodgers he was best deployed in his favourite position midfield and was mostly used as a defender.
Many fans expressed their concerns at this decision, who thought his distribution and reading of the game would be more effective as a midfielder. However, with the departure of Steven Gerrard at the end of the 2014/15 campaign, Emre had the chance to make an impression in the midfield position, and it wasn’t until October he really started to become a very effective player for Liverpool. Coincidentally, at the time Brendan Rodgers lost his job and was replaced with Jürgen Klopp.
He seemed very effective and confident when the German manager was appointed, whose energy and style of play had an immediate effect on him as well as the rest of the team. The number 23 scored his first goal of the season against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League group stages and went on to win Young Player of the Year in the club’s award ceremony.
He caught the eye of the Liverpool fans with his most impressive performances coming against Manchester City, Villarreal as well as that special assist to Daniel Sturridge in the 6-1 demolition against Southampton. His impressive season has resulted in debates about whether or not he should become the captain of Liverpool.
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However, for Emre to reach the next level of his career and establish himself as a top player within Europe, there are several aspects he needs to add to his game.
Firstly, it is viewed by many fans that he tends to hold onto the ball too long, resulting in slowing down the tempo of the game and losing possession in dangerous areas. With Emre most often utilized in a deep midfield role, his responsibility is to protect the defence off the ball, and control the game on the ball, which means setting the pace and introducing players in front of him into the game.
In certain matches, it is obvious that Emre took too many touches and did not released the ball early enough, affecting not only the pace of the game, but also affecting his teammates. This is something he will need to improve on moving into next season.
Top rated midfielders in the Premier League in recent years who play a similar role to Emre Can , such as Fernandinho, Matic, Dier, Yaya Toure have the record and ability to score and make goals, whether from open play or set pieces.
Emre is a tall, big and strong player, and it can be quite frustrating when he cannot grab a goal from set pieces and only really scores the odd goal. Moments, especially like the game against Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of the Europa League Quarter final, where he played quick one touch passes from the halfway line, assisting Divock Origi was an example of something he is capable of, and to become a better player, this is something he will need to do more regularly.
The main problem for me with Emre Can is his consistency. Many people can see how talented the young German is, technically and physically, but performing this on a week-to-week basis was an ongoing problem during the 2015/16 season.
There are games where he controls the entire game with his extraordinary range of passing and stops the opposition attacking, then there are games where it seems we are playing with 10 men as there are gaps in the middle of the park exposing the defence. He also struggles to consistently dictate the play which restricts other players to get in their rhythm to play the ‘heavy metal’ type of football Klopp tries to implement.
This is the main reason why opposition fans do not think he is a top player yet. However, I do believe if he was in Manchester City or Arsenal’s team last season, he would have been more appreciated, by playing with better players.
To conclude, it is quite clear that Emre Can is a very good and promising footballer and will no doubt, with experience and Klopp’s tutelage, become a very well established player for Liverpool and Germany in the next few years. If he adds goals and assists, consistency and quicker passing to his game in the 2016/17 season, in an improved Liverpool team, we could may well see him finish in the Premier League team of the season.