Emre Can impressed in his centre-back role against Burnley, and Brendan Rodgers should consider using him there for the foreseeable future.
A lot has been made of the Reds’ disappointing time of things in the summer transfer window, with several of Rodgers’ new purchases failing to ignite.
If there is one player who has shown real promise, however- Adam Lallana has also started to show glimpses of his quality in fairness- it is Can.
The 20-year-old looks the complete player in many ways, combining strength, pace, quality on the ball and versatility.
Although predominantly seen as a central midfielder, Can replaced Kolo Toure in a right-sided centre-back role against the Clarets on Boxing Day and excelled. Rodgers was very praiseworthy of his 45-minute showing, and hinted that his future belongs at the back.
“Emre has a big future here. It was curtailed a bit in the summer when he was trying to get his fitness but had an ankle issue which meant he was in and out of training.
“Emre has great athleticism and has presence on the pitch and is an outstanding footballer. He is young and still acclimatising to the game here.
“His favourite position is more defensive. He likes to be in that central role and look to contain the game and challenge and be strong in the duel.
“Emre coming on at Burnley gave us assurance and physicality. He is someone whose influence as the season goes on will be greater.”
Can is far from unfamiliar with playing at the back, and as Jack Lusby outlined in September, his superb performance for Germany’s Under-21 side showcased his expertise in that position.
Emre Can vs. Burnley:
74% pass accuracy
5/6 headers won
3/3 tackles won
1 interception pic.twitter.com/YDFfW9oWt1
— Liverpool GFN (@LiverpoolGFN) December 27, 2014
Although there is an argument to say that Can is a little wasted in a more defensive role, with his dominant style potentially Nemanja Matic-esque in the middle of the park, given Liverpool’s woes at the back he should certainly be given a run there.
Presuming Rodgers continues to play the 3-4-2-1 formation that has bought some success in recent weeks, the former Bayer Leverkusen man will thrive on the right of the back three.
The unfortunate individual to make way, should Rodgers decide to give Can a run in the team, will likely be Kolo Toure, although he would actually be better off dropping the erratic Martin Skrtel.
The Slovakian has flattered to deceive time and time again so far this season, and the Reds’ defence will simply never be a place of calm while he is in it.
With Toure in the middle of the back-three, and Can and the impressive Mamadou Sakho either side of him, Liverpool would suddenly have a slightly more solid-looking rearguard. Sadly, Rodgers appears to be a big Skrtel admirer.
There is huge potential in Can, arguably more so than any of Liverpool’s summer buys, and he really does look as if he could become a top-class player for the Reds in the coming years.
Despite his undoubted excellence in midfield, his future should lie at centre-back for now – especially if we are to continue with three at the back where the right and left sided centre-backs must be mobile and dynamic.
It’s easy to be knee-jerk, particularly when you are desperately looking for positives in a very disappointing season to date, but his reading of the game and composure look terrific.
We might just have found the answer to the Reds’ defensive problems.
Would you play Emre Can at centre-back for the foreseeable future? Let us know in the comments section.