Heading into the international break with just Manchester City to play before various players travel to represent their respective nations, the biggest concern is probably the fitness of a number of first-team players. Liverpool are battling for a place in the top four, ambitions that are obviously best served with strongest line-up possible. Emre Can’s contract stand-off, however, is hovering in the background.
The 23-year-old has said that “it isn't about money” along with revealing how a long-standing calf problem has affected his form when deployed away from his best position. Can appears to see himself as a number six as opposed to a box to box midfielder, and captain Jordan Henderson’s absence through injury has given Can the chance to show what he can do.
Can capped an uneven performance against Burnley with a winning goal to give Liverpool a vital victory last weekend. A trip to the Etihad Stadium will be a stern test of how Can gets on in his favoured position against intelligent interpreters of space such as David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne. For Klopp, though, it was important to address the issue of Can’s future at the club ahead of a big game.
“It makes no sense to talk about it, but I will because I heard that there was a story out there over the week,” Klopp said. “Yes, we are in talks. What can I say? They are good. Emre likes to be here.
“We really like him as a person and as a player. There are talks. There’s nothing else to say about it. His final year doesn’t start for another few months. There are no problems. Absolutely no problems at this moment.
“We are having good talks with a lot of other players. If there’s something to say, we’ll be the first to let you know.”
This season has been a somewhat disappointing one for Emre Can, but he has an excellent opportunity to remind everyone of last season’s form with a strong performance on Sunday. It’s to Liverpool’s benefit if both Can and Henderson are reliable options at the base of a midfield three, but Can has to display the necessary composure and tactical intelligence the position demands.
Klopp has always trusted Can, so it will be interesting to see what sort of midfielder he becomes as he enters his mid-twenties at Liverpool. The ability, drive, stature, and leadership qualities are all there for Can to prove to be an excellent player in the years ahead. A contract extension would be the only way for this to happen at Liverpool, but for now, the main focus for Klopp and his players has to be Champions League qualification.