Liverpool midfielder Emre Can put in his best performance of the season against Manchester City on Sunday, putting on the kind of display that shows just how good the player can be at his best. It’s a performance that becomes even more impressive afterwards once you find out he was playing while ill.
“Before the game, Emre and Mo [Salah] were on the way to becoming ill and for Emre it was a little bit more difficult,” Jürgen Klopp revealed following Sunday’s 4-3 victory over Pep Guardiola’s runaway title favourites. “At half time it was difficult but we had not a lot of options so he tried to keep going.”
After being dominant in the first half, Can was merely very good in the second, and as the game wore on it was clear he was fading—though it might have seemed safe to assume it was simply from all the running he’d put in. Klopp, though, knew it was more than that and that eventually he needed to make a change.
“Usually up 4-1 is a good moment but maybe against City it is more difficult,” Klopp laughed of his decision to remove Can and put James Milner out in the six to see out the game—something Liverpool then struggled to do as it ended up a nail-biting 4-3 with City threatening to draw level until the very end.
In the end, though, Liverpool escaped with the result they deserved, and a lot of that was thanks to Can’s impressive performance. At times, his inconsistency is frustrating, as can be his positioning, but on the form he showed against City there’s no doubt he could start in the six for a long time for Liverpool.
On the form he showed against City, Liverpool will be loathe to see him leave at the end of the season. But even if he does, it’s clear that he’s giving it his all for the club and manager right now—that he has committed to the club and Klopp for the season and isn’t already moved on in his head.