Scouting Report: Emre Can Liverpool's Heir Apparent to Steven Gerrard?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJune 6, 2014

Liverpool have agreed to sign Bayer Leverkusen utility player Emre Can for £9.75 million, per Andy Hunter at the Guardian, so is Can a viable successor to Steven Gerrard

Here is a scouting report on the 20-year-old German. 



Can is a 6'0", 181-pound player, who can interchange from central midfield to left-back.

Can also filled in at centre-back and as a left attacking midfielder. 

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers emphasised his preference for "multi-functional" footballers, per Phil Reade at Liverpool's official website, so Can's versatility was a selling point during the negotiation process.

He is an assertive, brawny and competitive player, who has the characteristics to prosper in the Premier League.

Can presses high up the pitch and won back the ball 121 times in league play.

He had several excellent individual defensive games, as evidenced with a 100 percent tackle success rate from five challenges against Borussia Dortmund, per, and five interceptions against Hertha Berlin, per

Dortmund centre-back Manuel Friedrich failed to anticipate Can moving into the passing lane.

Can's interception led to Leverkusen central midfielder Gonzalo Castro playing in Leverkusen left-forward Heung-Min Son.

Can is a two-way player, and his best attribute is his dribbling.

He completed seven of 10 dribbles against Dortmund, per, and six of eight dribbles vs. Nurnberg, per

Can's take-on success percentage (68), per, was 29 percent higher than that of Liverpool deep-lying forward Luis Suarez (39), per

Can was a one-man counter-attack against Augsburg.

Starting from inside his defensive half, he powered into Augsburg's penalty box, before slotting the ball past Augsburg goalkeeper Marwin Hitz.

Once Can created separation, he routinely demonstrated his ability to function as a creative outlet.

Can's lofted inswinging pass found Leverkusen centre-back Omer Toprak, who directed his header past Werder Bremen goalkeeper Raphael Wolf.

Can extended play by evading Schalke left-back/left attacking midfielder Christian Fuchs and clipped a ball to Toprak, who was denied a headed goal by the crossbar.

Can identified a mismatch with Leverkusen centre-forward Stefan Kiessling playing off the shoulder of Wolfsburg defensive midfielder Slobodan Medojevic, who had dropped deep into the centre-back zone.

Not only was it a dazzling through-ball that bypassed Wolfsburg's back line and played in Kiessling, Can validated his range as he was inside his defensive half when he released the pass.

Can's all-round playing style suggests Liverpool's front office view him as a player who can lead the club in a post-Gerrard era. 



Can's substandard defensive positioning is a red flag. 

He did not sufficiently press Bayern central midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who delivered a pinpoint cross to create a goal for Bayern centre-forward Mario Mandzukic.

Can was lax in marking then-Eintracht Frankfurt (now Wolfsburg) right-back Sebastian Jung, whose cross led to Eintracht Frankfurt central attacking midfielder Jan Rosenthal hitting the crossbar with a header.

Mainz centre-back Stefan Bell whipped in a low cross because he was afforded space by Can, which led to Mainz left attacking midfielder/centre-forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting creatively scoring via a backheel.

Can did not close down Hertha right-back Peter Pekarik.

Can subsequently overcompensated and jumped too early, which led to him partially deflecting Pekarik's cross toward Hertha central midfielder Tolga Cigerci, who forced a great save from Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

There was no communication between Leno, Can, Leverkusen centre-back Philipp Wollscheid and Leverkusen central midfielder Simon Rolfes when under siege against Nurnberg.

Wollscheid slid across the pitch attempting to block then-Nurnberg central midfielder Makoto Hasebe's shot.

Leno tip-toed forward as Rolfes ball-watched, while Can inexplicably hindered Leno's vision of Hasebe's shot, which hit the post. 

If Can stayed in his original position, he would have intercepted Hasebe's shot.

Here are aspects in Can's game that he needs to improve:

  • Crossing: misplaced 47 of 57 crosses.
  • Discipline: in one month, he picked up six yellow cards and one red card in all competitions. 
  • Pass accuracy: his 77.9 pass completion percentage is below the Liverpool average (84.5).
  • Shooting: his 11.6 shots per goal average is inefficient.  


Bottom Line

Rodgers and Liverpool's front office are not signing Can based on form, which is a risk. 

PublicationBundesliga Player Ranking

Can is inconsistent, is a volume-shooter, has no set position, lacks discipline and is still a work in progress. 

Rodgers is following Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's mantra in betting on upside than current form.

Here are two relevant Liverpool examples backing up Rodgers' decision to sign Can: Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho.

Chelsea management viewed Sturridge as a winger and then-manager Andre Villas-Boas wanted to convert the Englishman into a Hulk-type player, per Duncan White at the Telegraph.

Inter Milan wanted to sell Coutinho to fund a transfer for then-Corinthians central midfielder Paulinho (who later joined Tottenham Hotspur), per Sky Sport Italia (h/t Football Italia).

Since joining Liverpool, Sturridge has scored 31 goals and registered 10 assists in 43 Premier League games.

Coutinho flashes world-class play and created seven goals in the Premier League last season.  

Can exhibited resilience by making it at Leverkusen after limited opportunities at Bayern.

Over the next few years, Can has the potential to replace Gerrard.

Should this happen, it would vindicate the FIFA technical study group's decision to highlight Can as an outstanding player during the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup, per



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