Liverpool legend John Barnes has directed special praise towards midfielder Emre Can for his inspired revival following a difficult period earlier in the season.
Can was subject to criticism for his his lacklustre performances towards the beginning of 2017 but has since reestablished himself as a key figure in Jurgen Klopp’s central midfield trio.
The German seems to have thrived playing with the responsibility put on his shoulders as a result of captain Jordan Henderson’s lengthy absence.
Barnes has paid tribute to Can for stepping up his game and refusing to go missing even when things weren’t quite going to plan.
“Can has had a bit of a hard time with the fans at times, but what I like about the Liverpool fans is that if the manager backs you, they back you, regardless of how they may feel,” he told Liverpoolfc.com.
“And Can is a real team player. You ask him to play anywhere and he works hard. Sometimes he plays at the back, sometimes he plays in midfield.”
“One of the three midfield players is a very hard role for Liverpool because it involves a lot of work. He has adapted well to anything you’ve asked him to do.”
“He has never hidden and he has always wanted to get on the ball. He has showed a lot of determination and a lot of heart. The easiest thing to do if things aren’t going particularly well is to hide and not want the ball and shy away, but he’s never done that.”
Recent weeks have seen Can pose as a front-runner in implementing the aggression and work rate that has granted Liverpool so much success in testing away fixtures.
His improved displays have triggered a slight u-turn with regards to fans again realising his importance having been tempted into suggesting the club should sell him by reports of a contract dispute.
Sunday will see Can help Liverpool fight for a place in next season’s Champions League, with a win over Middlesbrough being all that stands in the way of the Reds securing a top four spot.