Emre Can has spoken about the more attack-minded midfield role given to him by Jurgen Klopp, admitting he needs to add more goals and assists to his game.
The 22-year-old started against Man United on Monday evening in the absence of Georginio Wijnaldum – his first Premier League start of the season.
With Jordan Henderson occupying Can’s deep-lying midfield role from last season, the German was given more freedom to express himself further up the pitch in a 4-3-3 formation.
It was a relatively quiet evening for Can, but he says he is working on getting back to his best and wants to improve various facets of his game.
“That was my first 90 minutes for five months so I am very happy I started,” Can told the Liverpool Echo.
“I need to get my fitness and confidence back.
“I played last year as the No 6, now I play as the No 8 and can go a bit further forward. My target is to score more goals and give more assists.”
That Can speaks of targeting more goals and assists perhaps hints that he has been told the more box-to-box role will be where he will be used this season, with Henderson the starting holding midfielder.
Can scored just one league goal in each of his last two seasons, with no assists.
It’s currently unclear how long Wijnaldum is out for, and therefore how long Can has to adapt to the new role.
The Germany international also discussed the forgettable 0-0 draw with United, claiming the Reds deserved all three point on a frustrating night on Merseyside.
“We trained for four or five days all together after the internationals so we were fit and ready for the game. We just couldn’t find a way through,” he added.
“I think we deserved to win.
“It wasn’t our best game but we played better than Manchester United. Their goalkeeper made two great saves for them.
“Facing Manchester United is a big derby for us, for the fans and for the Liverpool family. I think everybody worked very hard.
“We wanted to win and we gave everything. It’s a bit disappointing but we’re looking forward to the next game now and we have to keep working.”
Can will hope to retain his place for Saturday’s visit of West Brom, with Wijnaldum likely to miss out again through injury.
The youngster is now under pressure to be a regular under Klopp, having looked nailed on to be a long-term key player last season.
His potential is huge, but without everyone fit, it feels hard to find a place for him in Liverpool’s strongest possible team.