He turns 24 in January, but in truth, he’s probably on his way if no extension is agreed before the end of the year. Yes, Emre Can is a man on the way out. Think about it. Naby Keïta is coming next summer, Georginio Wijnaldum is a starter, Adam Lallana is the club’s tactical leader alongside Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho is Liverpool’s most talented player, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a regular option in midfield depending on how he progresses this campaign.
Even if Coutinho leaves next summer, Can would be battling at least Lallana and Wijnaldum just to start alongside Keïta. That’s how it should be, but with Jordan Henderson an automatic pick as the midfield anchor—something that Jürgen Klopp should probably reconsider—Can would operate as a high-level squad player. Again, that’s what Liverpool should be doing: challenge players to earn their place among increased competition. Alberto Moreno has done just that to be one of Liverpool’s best players this season and a reliable presence at left back.
There’s the issue of money, status, interest from one of Europe’s grand clubs in Juventus, and comfort. For Jürgen Klopp, however, panic is not the option he chooses to take despite there being no change in the situation.
"There is nothing new, no new news, I would say," Klopp said. "That’s how it is. I’ve said it a few times and it’s no problem to repeat it, I will say it again - it’s our job to make this club as exciting as possible, so that’s how it is. To sign a contract, he’s also allowed to sign a contract in May, even with a player who is already here.
"So I have no problem with that, I said it a lot of times, as long as Emre doesn’t give me one sign that his mind is somewhere else, I don’t have to talk about this. That’s a normal thing in football, so everything is OK from my side, but nothing new."
Klopp could be concerned about the prospect of Can discussing terms with other clubs in January, but the manager seems to be relaxed about the situation. He also revealed that Liverpool would be interested in players (Leon Göretzka, ahem) that will be in the same situation as Can with just six months remaining on their contracts—a fair and respectful approach to take.
"No," Klopp replied when asked if he was worried about Can talking to other clubs in January. "That’s then part of football as well. If it happens like this, we cannot change it.
"We try, if there’s a player out there with ending contract next summer and he’s good, what Emre obviously is, then we should try to do the same, so that’s an opportunity for all of us.
"It’s only one specific case. So what could I do now, I could now say, what it isn’t, ‘it’s a big problem we have to sort this now’. Put pressure on the player, put pressure on the club, [say] ‘people are not concerned anymore’ then they are angry?
"That makes absolutely no sense. We have to respect even an ending contact, it is like it is. There are two sides that could’ve done it differently, the club and the player, and now we have talked already too much about it. It’s just a normal situation."
Liverpool pick up injuries, something that Lallana appears to be increasingly involved in. Moreover, Liverpool should be operating a squad policy where "the survival of the fittest" reigns supreme where this storied club competes for trophies. Can may be tactically erratic and frustratingly inconsistent, but finishing in the top four should not be the aim. If Emre Can helps Liverpool to have a deeper squad, perhaps he should be paid as much as his England midfield colleagues—none of whom are key players.
It may be too late to keep Can, but Liverpool should at least make one more big push to keep the German international around for at least an extra season or two. Release clauses and wages could very well prove to be a barrier, but there is nothing like feeling integral to the future of a club with generous wages on offer.