Most expected Emre Can to be an important contributor for Liverpool, the versatile young midfielder arriving it seemed as Steven Gerrard’s understudy in the middle of the park. Things didn’t quite work out that way. Early on, Can hardly saw the pitch, and certainly not as a rotation option for Gerrard, who started out playing every match in the holding role as he had the year before.
Six months later, and that all seems a distant memory. And lately Can has certainly proved himself an important contributor for this Liverpool side. Just not in the role most assumed he had arrived at the club to fill. His future may still be in the middle of the park, but it’s no longer surprising to see him putting in a quality shift on the right of Brendan Rodgers’ back three—or popping up in any number of other positions.
He’s played in midfield and at fullback and wingback on both sides since installing himself as one of the first names on the team sheet, but it’s at the back—in a role that can at times seems equal parts defender, fullback, and midfielder depending on the situation—where his skills have been allowed to shine. And after a few sub-par outings, they were once again well on display against Burnley on Wednesday night.
Over the past week, there had been questions as to whether Can needed a break. With Mamadou Sakho injured in defence and Lucas Leiva injured in midfield, though, there was little chance he would be sat out for a match, meaning there was little choice but for Rodgers to see if Can could play his way through his dip in form. A few early nervy moments aside, it’s fair to say he seems to have done just that.
Video by MrBoywunder