Emre Can has played as a centre-back, a fullback and a box-to-box midfielder since arriving from Bayer Leverkusen last summer – but ahead of the Bournemouth clash tonight, his manager Brendan Rodgers has declared that the talented German will develop into a ‘controlling midfielder’, reports the Echo.
The boss though did compliment Can’s versatility, and reckons that the reason he’s comfortable in various positions is because of his wonderful football brain.
“I think he can play and operate in any one of the three (midfield) positions,” Rodgers began.
“When I met Emre and having seen him play in a whole raft of positions his great attribute is that he’s a footballer, he understands the game.
“Whatever role he’s asked to play he has this inbuilt brain for football that allows him to adjust and adapt.
“But when I met him I asked him his preferred position, where he sees himself playing and that was as a controlling midfield player and that’s where I’ve always felt he’ll be an outstanding talent for us.”
“As you see he can play in the back three, against Newcastle he played as one of the two centre-halves when we played a back four and was comfortable.
“But I think his passing range, his strength, his power he’s best in midfield and I think once again he’s finding his fitness.”
Can didn’t start the victory against Stoke last weekend, mainly because he’d missed the majority of pre-season due to his participation in the Under-21 European Championships with Germany, but when he came on as a sub, he undoubtedly changed the game.
Sitting at the base of a midfield three, Can dictated tempo from deep and helped us dominate possession at the Britannia, something we’d struggled to do before Rodgers sent him on.
The manager’s description of Can as a ‘controlling’ midfielder rather than a standard ‘defensive’ one is interesting. The 21-year-old has the ability to pass the ball and create chances from deep, as well as surging forward when the opportunity presents. Thanks to these attributes Can has the ability to play as a deep-lying playmaker a la Steven Gerrard in 2013/14 instead of a basic midfield destroyer, and it’s good to see that Rodgers has recognised this.
If he stays fit and starts regularly, Can could be key to our chances of a top four finish this term, especially with Lucas potentially on his way out (via Echo).