Emre Can’s hair is more impressive than Steven Gerrard’s. There, comparisons between the two put to bed and reasonably concluded. Sorry, Stevie.
There were fears for a second on Sunday that his headed goal against Watford might have ruined his barnet, but no, it stood strong. Remarkable – just like his past two performances, actually.
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While the German’s slick look earns the plaudits it is worthy of, the value of his versatility continues to be overlooked by many.
Comparisons between Can and Gerrard are loose and incredibly premature but the midfielder is certainly on his way towards becoming a fresh prospect and something different under Jurgen Klopp.
James Milner deserves the credit he gets for playing in a range of positions without complaint, but so does Emre Can. For him to come to Liverpool at 20 and adapt to roles as a deep lying midfielder, a central defender in a back three and even as a right back at times, is something that needs commending.
Settling down in the Premier League is no easy feat and Can deserves recognition for achieving this in a shorter period than a lot of experienced players do when coming to England.
What Klopp now has at his disposal, is a man driven by the greater competition for places at Liverpool and a man very blatantly striving to expand his game. Two goals in two games doesn’t catch the eye as far as some players are concerned. For Can, though, it is a stat that exposes early signs of him maturing into a true box to box midfielder and perhaps the player we expected him to become upon his arrival.
It was clear that his return to fitness earlier this season wasn’t just him adding to the numbers, but him bringing a different dimension to the side. His ability to drive with the ball from deep areas hasn’t been a secret. It hasn’t been until now, though, that he has been able to exploit this athleticism and raw attacking talent on a more regular basis.
Jordan Henderson doesn’t refrain from moving into advanced positions but he primarily moves across the line in the deep lying area he occupies. It’s for this reason along with the use of a central midfielder trio, that Can has the freedom to be more than just a ball retrieving work-horse.
He wants to score more goals. There’s no deception to the way he plays or the way he wants to play. There has always been an attacking side to his game that has been desperate to unveil itself and the time has come for that to happen.
Looking at the attention he pays to his own passing technique and something as subtle as the smooth nature in which he turns on the ball or the way he rolls his foot over it in preparation for his next move, is enough to highlight how he is far more than a defensive midfielder.
Imagine having the quality of Liverpool’s more obvious attacking threats, in addition to the power and the goals that Can is capable of providing.
A time will come when the likes of Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane are unable to find the back of the net. This is when goals from midfield can make a difference, which is why Can’s gradual development is so important in the long term.
He has proven that he has the energy to work up and down the pitch and, in turn, how he has the skill that allows him to join in with the intricate link up play and the quick thinking that enables him to contribute to his side’s counter-attacking football.
Throwing numbers forward quickly is part of what makes our attacking style so explosive and Can is no longer just adding to the bodies but he is making a difference in this area.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s one short term injury only saw him miss a week of action but even that has been enough to see Can take advantage by taking his place in the starting eleven. This speaks volumes in terms of how well the former Bayern Leverkusen man has rediscovered his form having returned from an injury himself.
Can is the latest in a long list of Liverpool individuals to have demanded special attention for their standout performances so far this season. Everyone is improving and long may that continue.
Klopp could have stumbled onto another attacking asset if his midfielder continues to get himself on the score-sheet.
A very belated welcome back to action, Emre.