Emre Can made a solid start to his Liverpool career in the 2014/15 season and always looked set to improve in 2015/16, but none of us could have foreseen just how much he has improved in the space of one season.
In an inconsistent team, Can has been one of the highlights of the season for Reds fans, underlining his position as one of Liverpool's key players and most dominant midfielder.
Jurgen Klopp's arrival at Anfield in October has seen Can improve at an accelerated rate, with many years left to come for the German midfielder who only turned 22 in January.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250-word test article: https://gms.to/haveyoursay4
The German joined Liverpool in the summer of 2014 from Bayer Leverkusen for £10 million, signed by Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool's infamous transfer committee.
Many signings that summer, such as Lazar Markovic and Mario Balotelli, haven't worked out at Liverpool, with Can looking like the best purchase in that transfer window.
Rodgers initially deployed Can as a makeshift centre back on the right side of a back three, along with Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho in 2014/15, and despite the German impressing in that position, it was clear that was never his preferred position.
Essentially viewed as a utility player who could play anywhere along the back four and midfield, this held Can back somewhat early in his Liverpool career, failing to hold down a permanent midfield place. Can expressed this himself when talking to LFCGO in July 2015.
He said: "The most important thing is I feature in the games for Liverpool - that's my number one intention
'A midfield role is preferable; of course, it is the manager who decides who plays where.
'We'll see where he chooses to play me this season. It is up to the manager but my preference is midfield."
Improvement Under Klopp
Klopp's arrival in October was a turning point in the German's career, with the new boss admitting he was an admirer of Can, stating his intentions to restore him to his midfield role. This was put into effect for the rest of the season.
Can made 38 appearances under Klopp in 2015/16, all of those coming as a holding midfielder, performing largely as a free roaming midfielder working alongside the likes of club captain Jordan Henderson and James Milner.
Playing in this role meant Can could show off his physicality, energy and excellent ball playing skills. While he was relied on to break up play and protect the back four, he was also able to show his ability with the ball at his feet, scoring two goals and assisting another three with powerful, surging runs forward to effectively eliminate opposition's midfield.
Playing alongside Milner in Liverpool's 3-0 Europa League semi-final victory against Villarreal, Can showed just how powerful he could be in this position, essentially holding the midfield on his own and putting in a man of the match performance, while Milner had free license to get forward and roam around the pitch.
Return From Injury
Perhaps the most impressive part of his season was his remarkable recovery from an ankle injury suffered in Liverpool's 4-3 quarter-final victory against Borussia Dortmund. After initial reports suggested he would miss the rest of the domestic season, it took him just under three weeks to make a full recovery for the Europa League semi-final.
Can himself explained how such a recovery was possible when speaking to the ECHO.
The midfielder said: "I put in a lot of work
'I didn't have one day off in three weeks.
'Every day I was at Melwood for seven or eight hours, doing everything I could to get fit for this game.
'I am so happy that I could play. I only found [out] earlier in the day that I would be starting."
Not only has Can become a key player for Liverpool this season, his desire to play and strong mental attitude will only endear him further to Klopp and the Anfield faithful, setting him on the path to becoming a key asset in Liverpool's dressing room too.
There is no doubting that Can has the potential to become a world-class footballer.
However, this season has also seen inconsistent performances and the failure to impose himself fully in games, such as Liverpool's defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League final. After excelling in the first half, he seemed to let the occasion get the better of him with a lacklustre second half performance, highlighting the improvements he can still make to his game.
After an inspiring 2015/16, Can still has some work to do. His off the ball work still has a little to be desired, failing to close gaps and fading out of games as they go on at times. Perhaps a more involved contribution to Liverpool's attack would be welcome too.
For Can to truly reach the world-class potential he showed in the 2015/16 season, he has to pair his ability and performances with consistency; a criticism that could easily be levelled at the whole Liverpool squad.
Winning the club's and supporter's Young Player of the Year awards are welcome celebrations of his season, but if he continues to progress at the rate he has, it seems certain he'll be winning many Player of the Year awards in the years to come.
How key is Emre Can to Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms