Of all the transfer activity taking over Anfield in the summer, one in particular seemed to slip under the radar.
With Luis Suarez departing for Catalonia and Mario Balotelli passing the Uruguayan at John Lennon Airport, the fellow incomings went slightly unnoticed. Emre Can being one of them.
The German’s start to the season was interrupted by injuries and was introduced slowly into the first team. Since gaining a surprising start against Chelsea at Anfield in November, Can has become somewhat of a vital cog in Brendan Rodgers new formation.
The game against Chelsea in November was possibly when Rodgers first had ideas to alter the formation. A 2-1 defeat may look close on paper but in reality the margin of defeat could’ve been larger. A high tempo pressing style restricted Liverpool to few chances and even fewer opportunities to gain momentum, Can’s goal coming from a deflected long range effort.
The 21-year old played central midfield that day but his recent role, as a defender in a three man defence, is where he’s made Kopites really stand up in appreciation.
Having played in defence for Bayer Leverkusen it wasn’t as if Rodgers was asking him to invent the wheel, but the manner in which Can has seamlessly fitted in means both player and manager deserve credit.
Rodgers decision to play three at the back isn’t a new one. In his first two seasons he used this option to give his side some tactical flexibility throughout the campaign. In Can Rodgers has the perfect example of flexibility.
The way that he’s able to bring the ball out of defence with ease, pulling opponents out of their shape, has contributed to Liverpool’s upturn in fortune. Having a midfielder play in defence isn’t something new, many adopt this role for the same reason mentioned above, but the fact Can is showing this much composure and courage in a three man defence is impressive.
His performance in last night’s win over Bolton was impressive as it was needed.
Having been frustrated by Neil Lennon’s side for ninety-minutes at Anfield, being one nil down with less than five minutes to go would surely have worried Brendan Rodgers. Having decided to play him in an advanced position in the aim of finding an equaliser, we got to see the side of Can where his creativity and drive shone through.
His assist for Raheem Sterling’s equaliser was Philippe Coutinho-esque and his manner in which he led the team forward was in the mould of a younger Steven Gerrard. I’m not saying he’ll go on to replace the inspirational skipper but it’s good to know that we have a player with similar characteristics already in the ranks.
His position alongside Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho may well be due to the lack of faith shown in Dejan Lovren but his impressive performances of late are quickly showing him to be the signing of the summer.
By Michael Williams