Liverpool midfielder Emre Can made a surprise return last Thursday against Villarreal, just three weeks after suffering an ankle injury that was supposed to have kept him out for six, ending his season. Even more amazing, he played the full ninety minutes and was one of Liverpool’s best players in a 3-0 win.
Now, having firmly established himself as one of the club’s most important players, the rising star 22-year-old is targeting silverware in Basel next week and a strong finish to league play ahead of that, and as he nears the end of his second season at Anfield, Can believes both he and the club are headed in the right direction.
“I think we had some ups and downs, but in the last few months you can see we play much better football,” he told the club’s official website. “We win more games and score more goals [and] I think it’s my best season. I played a lot of games and I play in the position I want to play. I’m very happy that I play there now.
“With Jürgen Klopp, I think I have made another step, and I want to try to always give my best and I want to be better and I want to help the team. Next year I want to go again, but this year we still have three more games and they are very, very important games and we want to win them all.”
If Klopp sticks to his recent pattern of rest and rotation, after being given the weekend off entirely, Can is likely to start tonight against Chelsea. Then, with his recent return from injury in mind, he will again be wrapped in cotton wool and rested over the weekend with an eye to next Wednesday's Europa League final.
It’s a situation Liverpool’s players have had to adjust to under their new manager, who has had to rotate heavily to keep everybody fresh—Liverpool, after all, have played more games this year than any other club in a major European league. And while Can says it isn’t always easy to sit out, he and his teammates know it’s for the best.
“I want to play every game,” he said of having to get used to being rotated more frequently in recent months. “But sometimes it is better to rest. We are just humans and everybody needs a rest. I’m [also] very happy for the young lads that they get the chance and they show what they are able to do.
“They played well in the last game when they got their chance. When you see the game against Watford, I think we have a very, very strong squad.”