Liverpool midfield Emre Can has revealed how he turned down Bayern Munich for Anfield this summer, and how he is almost back to full-fitness after being sidelined for the past month.
Can joined the Reds this summer for £10 million from Bayern Leverkusen, however has spent most of his time in the sickroom on Merseyside, after picking up an ankle injury when on international duty in September.
Despite having a host of top European clubs chasing for his signature, the 20-year-old revealed that it was Brendan Rodgers' persuasion that made him choose Merseyside instead of his former club Bayern Munich.
“Bayern had a buyback clause but that didn’t kick in until next year,” Can told the Liverpool Echo.
“There were some discussions with Bayern this summer but I decided the best thing for me would be to accept the opportunity to come to Liverpool.
“Before I came here I had discussions with Brendan Rodgers and that made my mind up. From those talks I was very positive about this move.
“This whole club is very ambitious and positive about how it wants to play football. That’s the way I want to play football too.
“Liverpool believe in the same things and that’s why I came here. I want to stay here for a long time.”
Despite not featuring much for his new side, Can is a superb addition to the Liverpool side.
Last season for Bayer Leverkusen, he was excellent in the midfield and looked skilled well beyond his age. The German U21 international is a real powerhouse in midfield when going forward and defending, showing intelligent passing and driving at opposition's back four.
With Steven Gerrard now in his twilight years of his career, it seems that Can has been drafted in to take some pressure of the Liverpool captain and become a suitable replacement when the 34-year-old does hang his boots up. Liverpool have missed Gerrard's forward runs that were unstoppable when he was at his peak, and the £10 million man can definitely fill his skippers boots.
The general consensus on the German is that he is a solid buy, definitely a player for the future however fans will be disappointed if he does not make a real impact this season on Merseyside.
It is encouraging for Liverpool that Can chose Anfield instead of returning to Bavaria. The midfield had a buy-back clause in his Leverkusen contract just a season later, which is a tradition at the Allianz Arena. Players like Toni Kroos and David Alaba spent a short-spell away from the Bundesliga champions before returning, however Can decided that Anfield would be the better career move.
Can is the type of player that Liverpool have been missing thus far this season. Steven Gerrard has struggled in his deeper role, and left Jordan Henderson doing much of his own running in the centre.
His return will take pressure of the two, as he can both help out at the back and going forwards, and allow the attacking three to not feel strained to track back.
After being out since he picked up an ankle injury in early September, when Germany U21's thrashed Romania U21's 8-0, Can is finally ready to return to first-team action and relishing the opportunity.
“I’m feeling much better and I should be back in full training with the first team next week.
“I got a blow on the ankle first of all and then when I was running at pace I tried to turn and went over on it.
“It’s been frustrating but that’s what happens in football and you have to get on with it. I’m confident I can come back stronger from this.
“I should be fit and available for the QPR game but of course whether I play any part in that game is down to the coach and how I get on in the training sessions next week.
“I’ve only played about 50 minutes in total but my initial impression about the Premier League is that there is much more tempo to the games here compared to Germany.
“The Bundesliga is more relaxed about how you play the game with more passing. English football is more about pressing from the start and that high tempo is the big difference.”
If Can can repeat the form he showed in Germany last season, he could become a real force for the Reds in midfield.
Brendan Rodgers has struggled with injuries recently and not had much choice when selecting his starting XI.
Daniel Sturridge and Joe Allen also suffered blows during the same international break as Can, which gave the Northern Irishman limited options both in the midfield and upfront.
Now that all three are close to returning, Liverpool fans hope that their side can find the same momentum that some then finish second in the Premier League last campaign.