Emre Can’s praise for Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson comes as a nice reminder of the midfielder’s talent given what a tough time he has endured with injuries this season.
The Reds captain has not featured since February yet Can has been insistent on expressing the England international’s importance to the team.
In a superb interview with Liverpoolfc.com, he said: “I know when Stevie left, it was not easy for Jordan because he became the captain after Stevie. The fans wanted him to do very well like Stevie in the first year, but Jordan Henderson is Jordan Henderson, he’s not Stevie.”
“The first year, he struggled with a lot of injuries and it was not easy for him. But this year when he has played, he was just brilliant. He’s always there for the team in the No.6 [position]. He’s a very, very good passer and he never loses the ball. He always knows what is around him.”
“For me, Hendo is a really, really top player. On the pitch he is top and off the pitch he is a real captain. On the pitch he is a real captain. He’s always speaking to us, he’s always there for the team if you need something. Sometimes he doesn’t get the praise he should get.”
Both Can himself and Georginio Wijnaldum have been in great form during the absence of their usual midfield partner yet there is no denying Liverpool have missed Henderson.
He posed as the front-runner in passing statistics for months on end this season and established himself as a reliable holding midfielder, only for his strong run to be hampered by injury. There was more urgency and more intelligence to his game that saw him become a crucial foundation to Liverpool’s attacking stars having the freedom to roam and break forward in numbers.
There are now doubts over whether he will play again before the end of the season, marking a current injury crisis in which a number of other key players have also been sidelined.
It is worth remembering the extent at which Henderson has improved this season, though, and the way he has evolved into a true leader under Jurgen Klopp.