Interest from big clubs is a sign that a career is progressing well, but Emre Can’s contract expires next summer and an extension appears unlikely at this stage. Liverpool need a strong squad; furthermore, midfielders in Jürgen Klopp’s system cannot play every game. The miles they clock and work they put in necessitate rotation unless breaking midfielders is the ultimate objective.
Naby Keïta is coming next summer and will complicate matters slightly, but Can has always featured prominently under Klopp. The 23-year-old may sign a pre-contract agreement with another club in January, but he is still an important player for Liverpool. It’s heartening, however, to discover that the German international is looking for ways to improve in Liverpool colours.
“I turn 24 in January and I’m very proud to have already made so many appearances for Liverpool,” Can said despite admitting that interest from Juventus was “an honour” considering the stature of the club. “At times this season I’ve been dropping deeper but there have still been chances for me to get forward to support the attack and even score.
“I was a little deeper in the recent home game with Burnley, a more disciplined role that means I can’t always go forward and be around the opponents’ box. Instead I help to build moves from the back, build the game with the centre-backs and have more touches. But when you’ve got players like Mo Salah and Sadio Mane in front of you, it’s great because they are quick and like to go behind the line and you can play the ball and it’s not that difficult for them.
“Mo’s always making great runs behind the last line and against Burnley I saw an opportunity to play the ball at the right time. It’s all about timing. But of course it was not easy after the pass and Mo did brilliantly to score.
“Earlier, against Hoffenheim in the Champions League I scored twice and the second was a great team goal. The ball was played deep to Firmino, who let it drop to Gini, who played a long ball to Sadio, who touched the ball twice then back-heeled to Roberto, who hit a perfect cross, and I just had to be there and score. It was a fantastic team goal and I hope we’ll see that kind of goal more often from us this season.
“Against Sevilla at Anfield it was tougher but again we played very well and scored another great goal with the equaliser. It’s different when you play against teams from other countries; some are more technical, some more physical, some tackle more – all different and all making it very exciting to watch.
“With Liverpool I think I’ve got about 10 goals in total so far. Sometimes I think I could score more. Whether it’s running with the ball and finishing or shooting from long distance, I always try to find the opportunity but it isn’t always easy.”
Can seems to fulfil two roles under Klopp as the deepest midfielder and as a box to box presence. His stature, physicality, drive, aggression, power, and ability to rise in big moments should have sealed a place as a regular starter with no doubts about his role in the team. However, Can remains prone to lapses in concentration, maddening inconsistency, and tactical indiscipline.
Is there more to come from Emre Can? The feeling is that he might just be a step away from fully blossoming as a player and becoming the midfield leader the club sorely needs. Jordan Henderson does his best but remains unconvincing as a starter let alone a leader; meanwhile, Adam Lallana is certainly a tactical leader for Klopp yet might fall short of that certain element to make him a compelling choice.
Emre Can could just be the man, but he remains a frustrating player to watch with the capacity for much more. Even so, Can has all the tools. We’ve witnessed how he can dominate games and rise as those flail around him like a true commander in the fury of a football match. Do not forget that these qualities are not easy to find and are difficult to develop.
For now, though, a new contract and more goals would be a good start.