It’s easy to see why Liverpool are so desperate to keep Emre Can and Juventus are reportedly keen to snap him up on a free transfer when his Anfield contract expires in the summer. There aren’t too many players who can claim to have won a Goal of the Season award and be a fully fledged German international at the age of 24.
But there is an inconsistency to Can’s game, especially when deployed in the holding role he’s adopted at times this season during Jordan Henderson’s recent injury layoff.
While the 20-cap midfielder tends to have an instrumental impact in the big games – like in the 4-3 win over Manchester City when he made the second-most tackles of any player on the pitch – he struggles to make the same impression against lesser opponents, ineffectual during the 1-0 defeat to Swansea last Monday and unusually quiet once again as Liverpool lost to West Brom in the FA Cup on Saturday night.
The Baggies’ three goals was evidence enough that Can – who Transfermarkt value at £25.2million – didn’t offer adequate protection in defensive midfield, not to mention the fact he was hauled off after just 64 minutes. But during that time, Can failed to create a single chance, have a shot on target, win an aerial duel or complete a tackle, while even his pass completion rate of 82% disappointed for a player whose primary duty was to anchor the midfield with simple passes.
Perhaps Can’s downturn in recent games is linked to the doubts over his future, or perhaps it’s because he’s been given the captain’s armband during his last two appearances.
But the former Leverkusen man has never truly struck as an out-and-out holding midfielder – he’s always shown a desire to make an impact going forward – and perhaps the change in roles, especially when playing against teams who look to hit Liverpool on the counter-attack, simply doesn’t suit his game.
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