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Can Emre Make it at Anfield?

The arrival of Emre Can will probably mean far fewer appearances for the likes of the popular Lucas Leiva but that sad scenario may be somewhat ameliorated by the combative young midfielder's tremendously positive attitude. And facial hair...which helps everything.

Let's be honest, most of you will not read this because you're mesmerised by Emre's tonsorial magnificence
Let's be honest, most of you will not read this because you're mesmerised by Emre's tonsorial magnificence
Lars Baron

Yesterday, as your scribbler lurched from one minor cataclysm to another, a brief window of calm opened, through which he gratefully leaped, cradling a vat of strong coffee and an irritatingly ubiquitous smartphone. Browsing the potentially disquieting borough of Twitter in order to glean some information on the the all-encompassing obsession that is Liverpool Football Club, it soon became apparent that there was some energetically blatant male objectification going on. Emre Can, it appears, is a very handsome man -- a fact that has not gone uncommented upon by the noble denizens of said social network.

Labour as I might to find pass completion stats and the like, it soon became apparent that it would be easier to simply join in the excitable wittering about Can's brooding features, absurdly wonderful coiffure and carefully tended facial furniture. The heady pitch of the chatter from the notably stirred ladies and gentlemen had reached Xabi Alonso levels of awe-struck reverence before pressing mundanity drew in around me again and I was forced to abandon the adoration, a little shaken by the ferocity of the homage.

Later, reading the young German's words, it was easy to be enthused for altogether different reasons. At only 20, Can is remarkably self-possessed and the player Brendan Rodgers has called "an inspirational young talent" has already achieved much in the game. After joining Bayern Munich five years ago, the adaptable youngster made swift progress through the various youth teams before making his senior debut in 2012. He was highly rated by the club's senior figures, who nonetheless allowed the player to sign for Bayer Leverkusen in August 2013 for £4.5m, albeit with a buy-back clause.

Last season was Can's first and only campaign with Bayer and, having impressed Reds legend Sami Hyypia from his very first training sessions, the midfielder made an impressive 39 appearances and became a mainstay for the club as they managed a fourth place finish. It was this form which convinced Brendan Rodgers to activate a £9.75m release clause and bring the defensively minded player to Anfield. The Liverpool boss has often spoken of his preference for versatile footballers and whilst the Germany U-21 international is most certainly capable of operating in multiple positions, it is very likely that he will feature most often in his preferred role.

As Liverpool fans reflect on the fine season which ended in a crushingly close second place finish, the rosy hue of the glass through which many view it is in danger of obscuring the reality. In the early going, before Rodgers happened upon the system in which Steven Gerrard anchored the midfield with a highly mobile duo ahead of him, the make up of Liverpool's central unit was altogether different, with Lucas Leiva featuring alongside the captain. The combination of the two resulted in a lack of dynamism which left the team exposed. The success of the subsequent set-up has reinvigorated Gerrard and likely threatened the Brazilian's prominence in the squad. Indeed, it is hard to see Can as anything other than a younger, more motile and vibrant replacement.

Can is understandably proud of his association with Der FCB and has nothing but praise for his former coach at Bayer Leverkusen. This is a young man on a very steep career path and the breadth and quality of his influences to date will no doubt stand him in good stead as he attempts to begin a successful new stage as a Liverpool midfielder.

"I am very thankful for my time at Bayern Munich," he insisted. "I played there for four years. It was a great honour to play for one of the biggest and best teams in the world. There was Franck Ribery, who I got along with very well, and he obviously became European Footballer of the Year. In my position especially, I also learned a lot from Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javi Martinez and Luiz Gustavo. They helped my development. I don’t regret leaving Bayern Munich. It definitely helped me establish myself in professional football. I have had a lot of games now and the nervous feeling when stepping on the pitch in the first couple of games is gone.

"I played a lot at Bayer Leverkusen. I played in the Champions League and it was a very good decision to go there. During the year, I matured and developed massively. Sami helped me a lot. I wasn’t well known. He trusted in me, and because I performed well in training he gave me the opportunity to play and made me a starting XI player. He told me that he did not care about my age, he simply decided on the player’s skills as to whether he would play or not. I have to thank him a lot for his trust in me."

Unsurprisingly, Brendan Rodgers is very positive about Can's recruitment and the player himself has attested to the fact that it was a "very good chat" with the Antrim man which convinced him he would be trusted and given his opportunity at Anfield.

"Emre is an exciting young talent and I’m delighted he’s chosen Liverpool for the next phase of his development and growth as a player," Rodgers gushed. "He has recognised that we are a club that improves and nurtures exciting, ambitious players and I’m looking forward to seeing him take those next steps forward for us. We have tracked his progress for some time and I have been impressed with his attitude and qualities when I have seen him play both in the German Bundesliga and the Champions League. He has many of the attributes we look for – charisma on the football pitch and courage to want the ball and make things happen."

As ever, when one is discussing new signings, it is wise not to be too effusive, lest they end up more Aspasian than Hendersonian and only the most emotionally incontinent amongst us will rush to giddily acclaim Emre Can as the answer to Liverpool's defensive midfield issues. It is, however, very tempting to be a touch excited about this particular addition to the squad, even if it's only for his contribution to the handsome bearded midfielder quotient at the club.

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