Liverpool signed Emre Can for around £10 million from Bayer Leverkusen in the summer of 2013/14. For a 21-year-old, 27 appearances can be considered quite good - if not great - during his debut campaign on Merseyside.
While he was employed mostly on the right side of a three-man defence during the only bright stretch of Liverpool's last term, he ended the season playing at an unfamiliar right-back position in a four-man defence.
Though Can impressed many Liverpool fans with his composure and power playing in the first formation, he was critically exposed in the second.
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The question here is that, is he a defender? He was in fact bought as a midfielder and even Can has made no secret of his desire to play at the centre of the field, where most of the play happens.
‘Over the long term it is definitely my ambition to play in the midfield’, stated Can in March 2015.
The European U21 Championship is underway and one would imagine Can will not find a better platform than this to show his capabilities in the heart of the midfield. Indeed, he showed glimpses of his undoubted talent in the draw against Serbia.
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He always seemed to have good control of the ball at Liverpool, and this was evident again in his goal against Serbia.
His subtle touch to first control the ball just outside the box followed by the drag-back with his left foot to hoodwink the defender in sending him the wrong way, before shifting his balance and sweeping a right-footed drive precisely into the right corner of the net could be sign of bigger things to come.
Now that Gerrard has left, the Liverpool midfield suddenly seems to lack that raw power. He could be the Rolls-Royce of Liverpool that Rodgers once called him.
With the goal against Serbia, not only did he give a timely reminder to the people watching where his best position is, but he will also feel more confident now to knock on Rodgers' doors and tell him that he is fit to play in the midfield for Liverpool. In fact, now is the best time for him to seize his chance at Liverpool.
Can is in fact among those who don’t cry when things are not going their way. Instead, he works hard and tries to overcome them. It is evident from his time at Liverpool where, in spite of injuries and lack of opportunities in the beginning of the season, he was ready when called upon.
As a matter of fact he was so good and relentless with his pressing and overall game play over the period of three months where Liverpool actually showed some form, that Rodgers claimed after the defeat of Burnley at Anfield that Can is a future world class player.
With Milner and Henderson, we already have two players with the awareness to cover for the rampaging runs that Can goes on if he plays as defensive mid-fielder in a 4-3-3 or at the base of a diamond.
With a striker capable of scoring 20 goals a season, I can see the rest of the pieces falling into place quite smoothly. We as Liverpool fans hope that he can flourish in his preferred midfield and be the true successor to the mighty Gerrard.
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