Since his arrival in the summer of 2014, Emre Can has played a number of roles for Liverpool. Primarily a central midfielder, Can boasts considerable strength and solid technique. Good vision and fine passing are also among his skills. As well, he’s been known to score stunning goals from range every now and then.
Will Liverpool Miss Emre Can If He Leaves?
His time at Liverpool began in central midfield, alongside either Steven Gerrard or Jordan Henderson, in a 4-2-3-1 formation. However, the team wasn’t performing at the expected level, and by November 2014 they had reached the lower half of the Premier League table. Luis Suarez had left for Barcelona and Daniel Sturridge was injured for a long time. Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini, and Rickie Lambert all proved incapable of successfully leading the line in such a system.
The alarm bell started ringing for manager Brendan Rodgers. He decided a change in the team’s shape was needed and switched to a 3-4-2-1. Martin Škrtel acted as the most central of centre-backs. Mamadou Sakho played on his left, and surprisingly, Emre Can on the right.
The change in the system brought with it a change in fortunes. Stringing 12 games without defeat, Liverpool quickly climbed back up the table and even got involved in the top-four battle. Their attempt to secure Champions League football for the second season in a row was ultimately unsuccessful, but the versatility of Emre Can had proven a valuable asset.
After a disappointing finish to the 2014/15 season, Rodgers kept his job for a while longer. He prepared for the following campaign by trying out several possibilities in pre-season but eventually chose to revert to 4-2-3-1. The addition of James Milner that summer provided some stiff competition for midfield places, but Henderson had injury problems throughout the season.
The Arrival of Klopp
The start of October brought significant change at the club as Jurgen Klopp replaced Rodgers as the manager. Under the German, the excellent performances of Can, Milner and Joe Allen soon sparked the question whether the captain would have a place in the team upon his return from injury. Emre Can remained the first choice for the entire campaign, making 49 appearances in all competitions, his personal record to this day. He was instrumental in Liverpool’s bid for Europa League glory that season which ended in defeat to Sevilla in the final of the competition.
But the beginning of 2016/17 brought another change in the system.
Liverpool signed Sadio Mane that summer, and the Senegalese winger was tipped to displace Adam Lallana on the right wing. Feeling he needed Lallana on the pitch, Klopp chose a 4-3-3 formation with Lallana playing in the right-sided box-to-box role just behind Mane. Milner became an emergency left-back instead of the underperforming Alberto Moreno, and the deepest midfield position was now between Emre Can and Henderson.
Losing His Place
Can suffered a huge misfortune – an injury, just as the 2016/17 season was about to start, and the situation made the choice easy for Klopp. Henderson took up the spot and made it his own. The team played very exciting football all through the first half of the season. Henderson’s tendency to release the ball quickly was very important for the quick, transitional style of play Liverpool mostly employed. They needed a player that would plan his pass before receiving the ball and move it on quickly. Henderson delivered just that, especially after intercepting an opposition pass. The clever movements of Mane and Roberto Firmino offered some good choices to the captain.
Can slowly but inevitably became a squad player, a man to go to when a midfielder is fatigued, tired or injured. Sometimes he played instead of Henderson, sometimes Wijnaldum or Lallana. But he hasn’t regained the role of a regular starter since.
The Contract Problems
Liverpool signed the German by activating his release clause back in 2014. For over three years they’ve been honing his skills, turning him into a mature player with significant Premier League and European experience. They will not be taking the possibility of losing him lightly.
The contract negotiations have nevertheless apparently reached an obstacle that cannot be overcome. Plenty of reports claim the reason for that is Liverpool’s refusal to include a release-clause in the offer. If so, it’s an understandable point of view from a club who lost the services of Luis Suarez to such a clause and only managed to keep Philippe Coutinho thus far due to the lack of one.
If the club and player don’t reach a breakthrough by then, Can will be free to sign a pre-contract with a club outside England from January 1st and leave the Reds without a transfer fee. Juventus have been mentioned quite a few times as the potential destination for the 23-year-old.
Would He Be Missed?
Due to a patch of poor form, Henderson has come under serious scrutiny from the public. However, there is very little doubt he still has his manager’s trust, both as a player and the captain. Milner has had his ups and downs as well. Wijnaldum hasn’t shown much consistency either. But the issue is, neither has Can.
Adam Lallana is nearing a full return after making just one appearance off the bench this term. Marko Grujic is progressing well and slowly gaining the maturity needed to regularly play for the first team.
There has been mention of the possibility to move the transfer of Naby Keita forward to January, but it’s highly unlikely. RB Leipzig will need the Giuenaen as they look to secure another season in the Champions League. At Liverpool he would be unable to play in the competition, having already played for the German team this term.
The same would apply to Emre Can at Juventus on the other hand. That, along with the possibility of a free transfer in the summer, could deter the Italian champions from bidding for him this winter. But it wouldn’t deter them from signing him on a pre-contract at the turn of the year.
Anything can still happen of course. He could sign a new contract with the Reds. Another club can enter the fray and offer him a better deal than either Liverpool or Juventus. But at the moment, Can signing a pre-contract with Juventus and moving to Turin in the summer seems the likeliest outcome. If that scenario materialises, Liverpool would probably miss the potential transfer fee more than the player himself.