Emre Can’s development at Liverpool has been a fascinating transition. The German midfielder looks a completely new player under Jurgen Klopp who seems to have given the youngster more responsibility in his Liverpool side compared to the lack of freedom Can had under Brendan Rodgers. However, despite flashes of flair, genius and leadership, Emre Can’s quality lies behind a vail of immaturity and the player has a lot of growing still yet to do.
Liverpool signed the versatile youngster from Bayer Leverkusen in July 2014 after the German spent time with Bayern Munich in their youth set-up. The 22 year-old was already impressing in his national set-up, joining Liverpool as a regular captain for Germany’s U21 squad. He’s now made three full international caps and has appeared for Liverpool on 70 occasions, 61 of those from the starting XI.
The Liverpool star can play a number of positions and has already been utilised in three different ones this season; centre-back, defensive midfielder and central midfielder. His strengths, which involve long range passing and strong tackling, are assets to Liverpool who need somebody to fill the void left by former captain, Steven Gerrard. Averaging a performance rating of 6.94% and maintaining a succesful pass rate of 81.8% according to whoscored.com stats – Emre Can’s season has been a fantastic display of the potential his future holds.
Under Brendan Rodgers, Can was utilised as a right-back in a weak back three for the majority of his playing time during 2014-15. It was clear from his performances at right-back that he had the potential to provide an impact from midfield and when given the chance, often delivered. However, a string of poor defensive displays from Can and Liverpool overcast his season and the German youngster wasn’t able to impress in the manner he had done on the international stage.
Emre Can wasn’t as effective from a defensive position in Rodgers’ squad. He only produced 11 chances last season, 15 less than the number he’s already produced so far this year and he scored just the one goal. He made two damaging defensive errors and only won 57% of his aerial duels despite his height and strength. However, he maintained a strong pass success rate of 87% and averaged a passing distance of 19m per game – proving he always looked to move the ball forward and demonstrated a great passing range. During the 2014-15 campaign, Liverpool failed to win on 20 occasions and Can was absent from the team for 7 of those games. The Reds had a higher win percentage with the German involved in the team despite a few poor displays so even under Rodgers, Emre Can had shown his worth.
Can’s performances this season have been a different story. He enjoyed his best match against Swansea City and impressed in the blockbuster clash against Arsenal in recent weeks. The German has brought presence to Liverpool’s midfield. He demands the ball and looks to make forward passes, often with success. Despite not scoring any goals or producing any assists in the Premier League so far this season, he’s created 26 chances and completed 934 passes with a pass accuracy of 80% – 76% of those were forward passes, showing his attacking mentality.
However, despite displaying some great performances this season and maintaining some impressive stats, the midfielder is still prone to inconsistency and his involvement in the Crystal Palace match was one to forget. Like his season overall, which is littered with the odd poor display, he often has dips during matches too. According to stats, he’s more prone to commiting fouls in the final half an hour of the game, averaging at least 2 fouls in the defensive half between 60-90 minutes. Whether or not this is down to fatigue or a drop in concentration, it shows some immaturity on Can’s part and he will need to reduce these numbers to remain effective for longer periods. But a player of Can’s calibre, one who produces strong tackles and risks moving out of position to make interceptions, is going to commit fouls so it’s a part of his game which isn’t going to leave him any time soon.
The display against Arsenal was a great showcase of comparison from Emre Can’s performances under Brendan Rodgers and his under Jurgen Klopp. In Liverpool’s meeting with the Gunners last season, Can displayed a frustrated figure. He produced a number of late tackles, was caught out of position against a strong attacking side, and was eventually sent off after producing a poor sliding tackle. However, when Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool took on Arsenal at home a few weeks ago, Can seemed to have the midfield under his command, overshadowing the Arsenal trio of Ramsey, Ozil and Flamini. Alongside Henderson and Milner, Can produced an energetic and creative performance and were it not for the quality of Giroud up front for Arsenal, Liverpool would’ve been more likely to take all three points.
Under Klopp, Can’s enjoyed a resurgence at Liverpool and he’s rapidly becoming a fan favourite. The midfielder has already showcased performances worthy of praise this season and it’s clear he’s got bags of talent despite still being young. He’s learning constantly under his German boss and the arrival of Jurgen Klopp has brought out the best of Emre Can, though it’s clear he will only get better. There’s flashes of immaturity and his performances remain inconsistent but in terms of ability and raw talent, there’s no denying Emre Can’s got the lot. For £10m, he may be one of the best signing’s Liverpool have made in recent seasons and there’s plenty more of him to come.