Emre Can has had a mixed but encouraging season at Liverpool, and his 2016/17 contributions included one of the best goals you’re likely to see.
Having started the season on the bench – partly due to injury, partly due to missing most of pre-season due to the Euros – Can slowly became one of Liverpool’s more reliable midfielders, and despite a mid-season slump he’s put himself forward to be a regular starter next term.
The German had struggled to find a role at the club since joining in 2014, and his versatility has resulted in him providing back-up in numerous positions including right back, centre back, and a range of central midfield berths.
This season, however, he’s found a regular role deep in the midfield in the place of Jordan Henderson who seemed to have been undroppable prior to his long-term injury problems.
Can took his opportunity, and despite a mid-season wobble which was suffered by the majority of the players in the squad, he’s grown into a vital part of Jurgen Klopp’s system.
As well as offering physicality, aerial ability, and decent defensive skills, he’s also become something of a goal threat, scoring five this season and adding a couple of assists to boot.
It’s fair to say he takes his football seriously, rarely cracking a smile on the pitch, and his no-nonsense approach could see him grow into a much-needed enforcer in the Reds’ midfield.
Emre Can 2016/17
On as a substitute: 6
Unused sub: 1
Average TIA Player Rating: 6.55 (Rank = 11th)
Highs and lows
Once he worked his way into the team, Can began to make sure he stayed in it.
The No 23 had three goals and two assists to his name by the end of the year, but a knee injury saw him out of the team in early December.
Despite only missing two games as a result of this injury, he came back into the squad as a substitute and struggled to find his best form in the new year.
A run of games towards the end of January were particularly uninspiring, and his displays against Swansea at home and Hull away were among the worst he’s put in for the club.
This saw him dropped to the bench again, but he was able to return after February’s welcome break from games with renewed vigour and belief.
He would go on to score two more goals, and his strike which secured three important points at Watford is one of the best overhead kicks you’re ever likely to see.
— Sam (@_SamAlex) May 21, 2017
It will go down as one of the best goals in the club’s history and will easily take any goal of the season awards on offer from the 2016/17 season.
Role in 2017/18
Going forward, Can will be looking to build on the dominant performances he’s put in towards the end of the season, and he’ll hope to retain his place in the side even when captain Henderson returns.
Speaking of captains, Can could be a prime candidate for a leadership role in the future, and appointing him as one of the vice captains in the squad, possibly replacing Lucas Leiva, could be a good move heading into a new season.
James Milner is the current incumbent, but should the club sign an actual left back then this season’s stand-in could see his playing time limited, opening up more opportunities for armband sharing. And with Henderson’s continued injury problems, the third captain may be leading the team quite regularly next term.
In terms of position, Can seems to have settled into the defensive midfield role, using his defensive skills when required but also getting forward to join the attack when the situation requires.
It’s an area of the pitch where Liverpool have struggled for some time, and they haven’t had a consistent presence in that area since Javier Mascherano left the club.
Can has a tendency to give away needless fouls and learning when to foul at the right time, in the right areas, will be something he needs to add to his game.
The number of fixtures the club will have next season means that any player will struggle to play every game, but Can should be a regular presence in the first team as he looks to cement a starting place at both club and international level ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
Best moment: His goal of all seasons vs Watford.
Worst moment: Swansea at home: subbed in the second half after a woeful display.
Role next season: First team regular and candidate for a captain’s role.