Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho is already almost certain to leave the club in the summer of 2018, and it remains to be seen whether in spirit he can stick around even for that long. With Naby Keïta scheduled to arrive next year from the Bundesliga, Liverpool’s midfield is guaranteed to look quite different in the very near future. It could look even more different, if Juventus get their way.
Reports in the Corriere dello Sport and Tuttosport, some of which were subsequently picked up in the English media, suggest that Emre Can - an increasingly vital component of Liverpool’s engine room - could come to a pre-contract arrangement with Juventus at the turn of the new year, and thus leave Liverpool freely when the summer of 2018 rolls around.
What some of the English outlets may be failing to pick up, however, is the highly speculative tenor of the Italian coverage. The reports are founded on some pretty obvious elements, such as the fact that Liverpool have thus far not been able to secure the German international’s signature, as well as the fact that Juventus - whose interest in Can has not been a secret - are determined to avoid another Axel Witsel, defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory situation.
Beyond that, Juventus executive Giuseppe Marotta has hinted heavily that discussions of some sort will commence once the new year arrives, stating that “from January, we can talk.” It’s not clear, however, whether those discussions might be aimed more at reaching a pre-contract understanding with Can, or at a cut-rate January deal with Liverpool for the midfielder’s services.
The pre-ordained arrival of Keïta will figure heavily in determining what happens next. When he eventually joins up, the Guinean international will almost definitely see some significant minutes in a midfield that likely also has to accommodate some mixture of Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Marko Grujić, and James Milner (if he’s still around). It would certainly be very nice for Liverpool to have Can as another option among that lot, but clearly the player himself might not be as enthused about such a situation.