Martin King explains why Liverpool have no reason to worry about the Emre Can contract saga.
It’s been dragging on for more than a few months now and has probably developed into one of the most simple, yet perplexing, stories surrounding Liverpool.
Enter Emre Can’s contract situation.
For a while, it has seemed that there is a stand-off between the midfielder’s representatives and the club itself regarding a renewed deal. Both parties have clearly stood firm on their terms, with Can seeking an increase in wages and certainty over his role in the side and Liverpool believing the player had not done enough to warrant a place amongst their highest earners.
As a result of the story finding its way to the press, Reds fans have been split in debate over whether the young German deserves the rumoured £100,000 a week figure, but even more serious a matter, one of Europe’s football giants have been circling above the situation like a hungry vulture.
Now, with Can currently representing his native Germany at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, the possibilities of him signing a new deal at Anfield as well as that of Italian Serie ‘A’ champions Juventus swooping in for his services simply co-exist with each other.
However, there are a few key reasons why Liverpool can be confident that the 23-year-old will pick the former instead of the latter.
Strong third season at Anfield
The first can be found in tracking back to last season.
Can returned to club duties late after representing Germany in another high-profile tournament in the Euros.
The midfielder looked to have lost his place in manager Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side, as he looked lethargic in his initial games and was sidelined by injury, whilst new signing Georginio Wijnaldum made a name for himself in red.
That he bounced back from that difficult spell with some strong performances in midfield – most of which were in the absence of some of Liverpool’s best players – spoke volumes about the German’s character and desire to be a permanent fixture in Klopp’s plans.
It can be said that he currently has a grip on that position, and with the Merseyside club approaching a season which will see them compete in the UEFA Champions League again, it can also be said that he won’t want to let go of it that easily.
The Klopp effect
Fuelling that desire to remain at the top of his pecking order would’ve always been Can’s manager and fellow countryman Klopp.
In the Reds manager, Can not only has a very demanding taskmaster but a man whose primary aim is always to get the very best out of his players.
In fact, regardless of what happens between now and the start of next season, Klopp can easily claim to have achieved that with Can in more ways than one.
In his first two seasons at the club, the former Bayern Munich youngster largely put on the image of a man well confident of his ability but one often left frustrated by a manager who played him out of position and the fact he struggled to make a lasting impact even when he was put in his preferred place.
This has changed drastically under Klopp, who has realised that Can’s best place not only lies in a defensive midfield role that sees him do all the dirty work for the purpose of shielding the back four, but that the 23-year-old has a place in more advanced positions.
This is strongly evidenced by last season’s tally of five league goals, as opposed to just two in his first two campaigns as a Red.
Put simply, Klopp has grown Can into a defensive-minded midfield player with a special licence to attack, and when you consider that his school-boy temperament is showing positive signs of fading away and being replaced by a mature and bold way of doing things on the pitch, it is very clear that one German has had a tremendous impact on another.
Add to that the benefit of Joachim Löw finding these qualities very useful for his German squad (with Can so far making two starts for the world champions in Russia) and it is without doubt that the midfielder wouldn’t want to risk losing his current momentum by restarting in unfamiliar surroundings.
The words that came straight from the horse’s mouth
If the above isn’t quite enough to ease any worries you may still harbour towards Can’s contract situation, then remember the words that came straight from the horse’s mouth
“I read in newspapers it was about money but it isn’t about money,” Can said back in March, according to the Liverpool Echo.
“We’ve had a few good meetings and everything is fine. You never know what will happen in football but I am happy here. I hope to play for many years at Liverpool.”
If the midfielder said that in March, then again with Liverpool qualifying for the Champions League, top-level signings surely set to come through the door to bolster the chase for silverware and the club continuing work on a top class home for players to relish playing at weekly, it’s fair to conclude that Can still retains his hopes for a long-term stay.
Still, is the man worth a hundred big ones?
Ever since the turn of the year, four big names have all been offered and signed extended deals at Liverpool.
While some rightly deserved a wage increase, fans and experts are still scratching their heads over just what others did to merit receiving one.
Enter Dejan Lovren, easily the Anfield faithful’s most – ‘hated’ is perhaps too strong a word in this case, so let’s go with – unloved player.
Following the Croatian defender’s contract signing, the fact he received a major wage boost that went up to £100,000 a week was much publicised, to the rage of many a Reds fan.
If the Merseyside club can offer that much for a senior member of the squad who doesn’t show any promise of getting better with age, then it surely seems right to offer the same amount to an experienced youngster who is getting better at mastering his craft by the season.
In other words, if not for the player that Can is at the moment then Liverpool should do it for the player the German is fast becoming and that is a multi-talented midfield star.
Talks of that new deal will likely resume and conclude following the Confederations Cup tournament, as Can’s current deal has only a year to run out.
Re-signing the number 23 is a priority for Liverpool but it shouldn’t be one that needs much fussing over, as one party or another will likely come to a compromise, for the sake of the fact that both are not only good for each other but genuinely want to remain in each others’ company.