Ever since returning to the line up against Swansea in late December, Emre Can has made himself an undroppable figure in Brendan Rodgers' starting eleven. The young German has featured regularly and highly competently in a back three with comprising himself, Martin Skrtel, and Mamadou Sakho, but owing to competition for places in the centre of the park, hasn't yet been able to stake a claim on his true position in midfield.
That all changed on Thursday against Besiktas when Jordan Henderson joined Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva on the injury list and Rodgers was forced to move Can out of the centre back position he'd grown very comfortable in in recent weeks. It's a move many fans had been eagerly anticipating, and one that Can's manager felt proved to be the right choice.
"I thought he was outstanding in the middle," Rodgers said of Can's display against Besiktas. "He is such a top class football player. His pace, his power, his ability to read the game and his ability to take the ball are all so impressive.
"He likes to play but he also like to play in that back three as well and drive forward. He gives us that confidence on the ball. He has played three or four positions for me and he is a top class footballer."
Can's emergence as a club stalwart after just a few months of incredibly positive play is certainly a delight, but his leadership skills on the pitch are also causing a stir amongst fans. Jordan Henderson may be tipped to become captain next season after Steven Gerrard moves on, but Can is quickly becoming a strong contender for the vice captain role in spite of his incredibly short tenure on Merseyside.
Emre calling the players over to console Lovren pic.twitter.com/uptLZL8qqI— MrBoywunder (@MrBoywunder) February 27, 2015
Can captained the German national side at various youth levels, and it's clear that despite his youth he carries himself with a great deal of maturity on the pitch. It's enough to make one wonder if he was a few years older and had come to Liverpool a few seasons earlier whether or not he'd be the heir apparent to Steven Gerrard's throne.