Over the course of the past few months, Emre Can has become a prominent figure in the Liverpool first team. The Germany U-21 International has forced his way into Brendan Rodgers’ side and with good reason. Known for his versatility, former Bayern Munich academy graduate Can has proven his aptitude in a plethora of positions across the park.
Be it as a centre back, central midfielder or defensive midfielder, Can has performed his role in the team with great aplomb. He has been likened to Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, as is usually the case with aspiring midfielders. But, what is it that makes Can Liverpool’s go-to man? Kop Chants takes a look at the former Bayer Leverkusen man’s myriad qualities and what bodes for the future.
Many have come and gone with the tag of the ‘New Gerrard’ passing them by in the mist of Anfield. While it is definitely too early to make comparisons between Gerrard and Can, it is fair to say that Can is far more likely to Gerrard’s boots than any other academy graduate has in the past. Can has the all around game that made Gerrard the player he was and is today.
Of course, both have completely different styles of play but in terms of the sheer impact and reach Can can have over the team, he definitely mirrors Gerrard. This was most clearly shown in the FA Cup replay over Bolton when Can took control of a toothless midfield, abdicating his defensive position, and threaded a glorious ball over a resilient Bolton defence for Raheem Sterling to finish. Nobody else in the team showed the initiative Can did to take the game by the scruff of its neck and that is what separates him from the rest.
An aspect of Can that makes him stand out is his impeccable physique and brute strength. When Can is on a run, it is almost impossible to stop him. He evades players with consummate ease, which makes him a really prominent presence in midfield. This was shown in the game against Sunderland when Can got past two Sunderland trackers and drew a foul from Liam Bridcutt culminating in him getting sent off for a second yellow.
I liken this aspect to that of Xabi Alonso whose deft touch on the ball drew lot of fouls and cards. Can is definitely a threat for the opposition in the middle of the park, which they have sorely lacked since the departures of Alonso and Javier Mascherano. His physical strength allows him to shield the ball like no other player in the Liverpool team. In tight games where teams look to press high, a player with Can’s ability is pivotal and key to winning the midfield battle. He can also barge players
of the ball with relative ease.
|Can can be a nuisance for defenders|
Source - LiverpoolEcho
However, what differentiates Can from the stereotypical “hard-men” in the Premier League is his deft touch and panache on the ball. He just oozes class whenever he carries the ball with him. His technical ability can be compared to that of Phillipe Coutinho in just his skill and confidence with the ball. He is not afraid of taking people on, even in tight situations. While Joe Allen or Jordan Henderson may attempt a safe sideways pass, Can always looks to move forward. Due to Can’s introduction in the team, it has become palpable how much more confident goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has become because he trusts Can to do the right thing. Instead of playing fatal backpasses, Can takes accountability to evade danger. This is something that seems to have spread through the team, as others seem to be more confident as well. Like Gerrard in the past, Can inspires and leads by example.
However, as is with every aspiring player, Can does have some chinks in his armour that will get fixed with time but now are a problem. One is his aerial ability. Can, though physically strong, does not have a great airlift and is often prone to misjudging headers. This was particularly a problem when West Ham came to Anfield and played a lot of long balls to Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia. Can particularly struggled with those kinds of balls and it is something he needs to improve upon if he is to become an elite centre back.
|Can' lack of pace is sometimes his Achilles Heel|
Another flaw in Can’s game is his lack of pace. As his tactical awareness and reading of the game is only in the developing stage, Can is sometimes caught out and cannot compensate with pace. This was particularly on show when Can misread Eden Hazard’s play in the Capitol One Cup Semi-Final, conceding a penalty. Early signs show that Can will have eventually become tactically sharp but most probably not on the Paulo Maldini level meaning that he might be forced into a lot of last ditch tackles like John Terry. As Terry’s career has shown, this can lead to a lot of red cards and suspensions.
In summary, Can has a special quality in that he is a pitbull in midfield like Arturo Vidal but the grace of Andrea Pirlo on the ball which can make him one of the Premier League’s best if not the world’s best players. His position is that of the box-to-box midfielder because of the aforementioned quality but his versatility allows Liverpool to have three-to-four players in one. This can be analogous to the all rounder position in cricket like Jacques Kallis where he could perform multiple roles for the team. Can also has the potential to be Liverpool’s future captain though it is definitely too premature to say it. What is for certain is that Liverpool has an outrageous talent on their hand in Can.