Emre Can: The one who got away from Liverpool?
Fresh reports suggest the German international may have played his last game for the club amid concerns he will depart Anfield on a free transfer this summer.
It has been a week of euphoria for many Liverpool fans with Wednesday night’s remarkable 3-0 victory over Manchester City putting them on course for a Champions League semi-final spot. However, despite such a landmark victory, there have been news items from Anfield this week that have given fans cause for concern.
Adam Lallana’s injury-disrupted season continued its frustrating theme as his cameo at Crystal Palace lasted a matter of minutes before his withdrawal. Central defender Joel Matip was ruled out for the rest of the season, joining fellow defender Joe Gomez on the sidelines. Jordan Henderson will miss Tuesday’s return leg at City due to suspension. At least Liverpool can be confident all three will return to the pitch at some point, but no such guarantees are given for Emre Can.
The German international is unavailable due to a back injury and whilst it was hoped he could return for next week’s clash at the Etihad, reports on Thursday night suggested his injury was worse than first feared and he could miss the rest of the campaign. Others hint he may return later in the season, but he is unlikely to take any risks ahead of the World Cup as he hopes to find a new club this summer.
Can only turned 24 in January and has the best of his career still in front of him; had his contract not been expiring, Liverpool could probably make a massive profit on his sale. He has already amassed 20 caps for the German national team and offers both the quality and urgency needed to play in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield three.
Liverpool have several competent players in similar positions–Henderson, Lallana, James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain–yet it is hard to argue any are of more value individually than Can.
A cursory glance at the clubs linked to the German–Bayern Munich, where he began his career and, most notably, Juventus–show that his qualities are valued by Europe’s top bracket of clubs. They also know his age profile means they can offer him a comfortable long-term deal with the hope of big resale value in three or four times. Not having to pay a transfer fee themselves is a massive benefit.
Can has enjoyed a strong season with Liverpool, where he has amassed over 160 first-team appearances, and has excelled in the middle of the pitch, yet it also his adaptability which makes him so valued. He can play in a deep-lying midfield role or in either the right-hand side or centre of the backline.
He offers strong attributes both in defence and attack, with his physical attributes and stamina ideal in a midfield three. For a club who both buy and sell at very good value in the transfer market, Can’s departure on a free transfer could become one huge source of regret.