Max Newman discusses how important Emre Can is to Liverpool, drawing on his performances last season and his absence against Tottenham this weekend.
Liverpool’s central midfielder Emre Can is looking to become a key player under Klopp, and he evidently adds something to the team, but how do Liverpool fair without him?
Liverpool signed Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen for almost £10 million in the summer of 2014. The Reds activated a £9.75m release clause in his contract, and his switch to Anfield from Bayer Leverkusen was completed. After a spell as a centre back and right back, he has found his place in central midfield and exerts a growing influence on the team.
This influence was lost in Liverpool’s hapless draw with Tottenham Hotspur as Can played no part in the 1-1 game. It was clear Liverpool’s midfield lacked his presence against Spurs, with Milner covering left back and Henderson and Wijnaldum playing more attacking roles, we lacked a strong defensive midfielder who could control the game – which explains why Spurs managed to break through and luckily equalise. Mane’s goal being called offside didn’t help our situation, but with Can in the side we may have been able to hold Tottenham at bay.
Can played a small role in Liverpool’s tense win against Arsenal, coming on as a sub for Coutinho in the 70th minute, and although they conceded in the 75th minute, Can helped Liverpool to hold out and grab the win.
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Emre did not feature in Liverpool’s lacklustre loss against Burnley, in which Liverpool were missing a key figure to dictate the game, as Henderson seemed out of the game entirely. Emre Can clearly contributes something to the midfield and with him Liverpool play better on the counter attack and defensively.
Finally, in Liverpool’s EFL cup win against Burton Albion, Emre Can started and held up the midfield, helping Liverpool win 5-0.
Interestingly, in the two games that Can has played for Liverpool this season they have won, and have conceded only once in the time he has played, the goal against them being Chambers 75th minute goal when Can came on as a substitute in the second half. In the games Can hasn’t played in at all Liverpool haven’t managed to gain the three points and only when he has played have Liverpool achieved a win.
Last season, Emre Can emerged as one of our key players after Klopp came in. Can was transformed into a solid holding midfielder and shone particularly in Liverpool’s Europa league campaign. With him, Liverpool looked confident and played their way through opposition, but near the end of the campaign Can got injured in Liverpool’s quarter-final second-leg win over Borussia Dortmund. He left Anfield on crutches and his foot in a protective brace. In the coming weeks without him, Liverpool struggled, but three weeks later he was back and played, given the context, his finest game for Liverpool against Villarreal.
This season Can looks to prove a point, and I believe he could be like a new signing, with fans pleading Liverpool to buy a new centre defensive midfielder, they seem to be forgetting a potential asset in Can, and this season he can help Liverpool regain their momentum and push for a top four finish, with the potential of a trophy.