- Squad Number23
Brendan Rodgers captured what he described as an ‘exciting young talent’ when Emre Can became Liverpool’s third signing of the summer transfer window in July 2014.
Having represented his country across all youth levels, captaining their U17 World Cup campaign in 2011, the 20-year-old’s switch to Merseyside is another exciting signing for the Reds.
Combining a mixture of power and poise, the versatile player is well versed in piloting the pace of games, especially when he is deployed in a deep midfield role. Can revels in box-to-box responsibilities, but has also performed effectively on the left as an attacker and full-back, as well as in central defence.
The former Bayer Leverkusen asset is exactly the kind of emerging talent that Liverpool boss Rodgers enjoys working with, as his resourcefulness illustrates a wealth of football intelligence.
Perhaps the perfect taster of Can’s catalogue of skills is the goal he scored against Mexico in the semi-finals of the U17 World Cup. It was a coming together of beauty and beast; he received the ball with three markers closing in on him, skipped past one and paced forward before escaping two other opponents and evading the goalkeeper to finish expertly.
The move was typical of the aggressiveness on the ball Liverpool displayed last season, and the club will want Can to help continue the trend in the new campaign. His progress has been closely monitored by top clubs since the start of his youth career at SV Blau-Gelb Frankfurt and Eintracht Frankfurt, where it was evident Can boasted brilliance beyond his years.
In 2009, Bayern Munich recognised his talents and secured his signature. In a bid to aid his acceleration into first-team football, the German giants sold him to Leverkusen in August 2013.
“Emre Can is one of the biggest talents in German football,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge at the time. “With this step, we want to make sure he gets enough playing practice, for example like Toni Kroos had at Leverkusen, Philipp Lahm at Stuttgart or David Alaba at Hoffenheim.”
Can’s performances while at Leverkusen attracted Liverpool to his excellence. He shone in both the Bundesliga and Champions League, the latter in which he made his debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
In 32 starts across all competitions last season, Can netted four goals and notched up four assists, while largely operating in a defensive capacity and working under the tutelage of Reds legend Sami Hyypia.
As the midfielder eyed the crucial next step in his development, a deal was agreed in principle with Leverkusen for a move to Merseyside, which was officially rubber-stamped a month later, in time for pre-season.
2014-15 saw Can emerge as one of the Premier League’s best young players, with assured performances in both defence and defensive midfield belying his tender years.
Can’s first Liverpool goal came against intense rivals Chelsea in November 2014, but alas his opener was overhauled in a 2-1 loss.
Against the same opponent in a League Cup semi-final defeat on 27 January 2015, Can was stamped on by Chelsea forward Diego Costa. Referee Michael Oliver did not penalise the incident, but Costa was retrospectively banned for three matches by the FA. Can was sent off for two bookings in Liverpool’s 1–4 loss toArsenal at the Emirates Stadium on 4 April. While naturally a midfielder Can spent much of his debut season playing in defence.
n 22 October 2015, in Liverpool’s UEFA Europa League match against Rubin Kazan at Anfield, Can scored his first goal of the 2015–16 season. It was the club’s first goal under the management of Can’s compatriot and new manager Jürgen Klopp. On 14 February 2016, he scored his first league goal of the season in a 6–0 win over Aston Villa. While Can was often used at centre back or full back under Rodgers, with Klopp’s arrival he was moved to his preferred position of central midfielder. He was praised by Klopp for his improvement and became a key cog in Liverpool’s midfield.
On 14 April 2016, Can ruptured his ankle ligaments in Europa League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund. Initially, he was ruled out for the rest of domestic season. However, he returned ahead of the schedule and played in second leg of the semi-final against Villarreal. Can later revealed that he trained for 8 hours a day for 3 weeks to get fit for the Villarreal game.
On 31 May 2016, Can was named in Germany’s final 23-man squad for UEFA Euro 2016. Emre goes into the 2016/17 season under Jurgen Klopp as a key player for the Reds.