Seemingly having learnt from their troubles in previous transfer windows, things are moving very quickly at Liverpool. After announcing the signing of Ricky Lambert from Southampton for a mere £4.5 million, the Reds have reached an agreement to sign German U-21 captain Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen for around £9.75 million. Brendan Rodgers is setting out his stall and wasting no time in recruiting his targets. Can, formerly of Bayern Munich, is highly rated by many across Europe and at only 20-years-old, he has the potential to establish himself in the Liverpool side for years to come.
In terms of Can’s background, he started his senior career at Bayern Munich II, the reserve team of the German giants. He then went on to play for the first team in the 2012-13 season, albeit he only played four games, scoring once from a predominately left-back position.
Can then made the move to Bayer Leverkusen, with Bayern Munich including a buy-back clause should they be interested in bringing him back. He played a total of 29 games in the league and 39 overall including Champions League matches, one of which was against Manchester United. Assigned to his more comfortable role of central midfield, the young German was highly impressive last season with his strong presence on the field along with confident work on the ball. Qualities such as this seem perfect for player in the Premier League.
What can Can offer?
You could obviously predict that because Can is so young, he has bags of potential, but progressing enough to reach that potential is another matter.
His versatility seems to be one of his main strengths as he was pretty much all over the field whilst playing for Bayer Leverkusen. During last season he played in the positions of;
- Defensive Midfield
- Central Midfield
- Attacking Midfield
- Left Back
- Centre Back
- Left Midfield
- Right Midfield
Now there’s not too many players in the game that have played in as many positions as that in their career but it just goes to show that Can is confident in playing in whatever position necessary and adapting his style of play to fit the situation. His height and strength give him the ability to hold his own in defensive positions and his tackling and ball winning abilities make him perfect for the defensive midfield role. However, if needed, he would be available to play on the wings for Liverpool due to his quick feet and sharp dribbling. Can’s work rate has been commended and his capacity to move from box to box on a frequent basis will provide extra energy in middle of the pitch, similar to Jordan Henderson.
Although Lucas has been a good servant for Liverpool in the defensive midfield role for a number of years, it seems that he lacks the presence and leadership needed to protect his back four. Can could be the perfect solution for this as he possesses the tough tackling, ball winning abilities of Lucas, as well as being able to pick out short or long passes and being able run at players too; something that has been missing from Lucas’s game.
Many say Can is in the similar mould to Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos, both of which he played and trained alongside with at Bayern Munich. He obviously has a long way to go to match both players in terms of their consistency at the highest level. However, being at a team like Liverpool, who need to add depth to their squad, he is likely to see more action on the field and will have the opportunity to develop his game in Premier League under the leadership of Brendan Rodgers.
Although Can shows the sort of maturity found in players in their mid twenties, his naivety in terms of his rough nature and tackling could see him in the book a fair few times in the Premier League. He received 13 yellow cards last season and was also sent off in the 2nd leg of Bayer’s last 16 tie against PSG in the Champions League. His discipline will have to improve if he is to establish himself in the first team and with the English league being so competitive and somewhat aggressive at times, he will need to tread carefully but hopefully it is an aspect which he will take in his stride and embrace as it will suit his style of play.
We have seen a few players with much potential who haven’t quite made the impact that they would have liked at Liverpool. Players like Borini, Suso and Alberto are just a few who haven’t been given the chance to shine under Rodgers and you’d hope that Can wouldn’t find himself in a similar position if things were not to go his way in the first few months.
What Does Can Need To Do To Succeed?
You would think that with the way Can is accustomed to playing, the Premier League would suit him to a tee. The aggressive, free flowing and exciting football is what Can needs to show that he can fit into and will need to hit the ground running to establish himself in the first team. Rodgers may decide to ease him into his first season by playing him sparingly which wouldn’t be the worst idea. Can will need to demonstrate however that he has the temperament, confidence and technical ability to thrive in an exciting Liverpool side that have big plans for the future. A player to look out for in the years to come. Watch this space.
Here is a collection of some of Can’s highlights from last season. Enjoy.