5 Bold Predictions for Emre Can's Debut Season with Liverpool
It helps that his signing has been given ringing endorsements by household Liverpool names like Sami Hyypia and Dietmar Hamann, but it’s a testament to Can’s impressive performances during Liverpool’s preseason tour of the United States.
He has already become a fan favorite after his high-profile barging of Mario Balotelli off the ball during the International Champions Cup, and expectations are already high on the 20-year-old German midfielder.
Here are five bold predictions for Emre Can’s debut season with Liverpool. Let us know your verdict and thoughts in the comments below.
He Will Score at Least 5 Goals
Five goals doesn’t sound too impressive, but Jordan Henderson, an ever-present for Brendan Rodgers last season, only scored four—the second-highest tally for a Liverpool midfielder after Steven Gerrard, who scored the majority of his own total through penalties.
But Emre Can has the capability to score at least five goals for the Reds this season, even if he doesn’t start the campaign as first choice (more on this later).
His physical style of play means he will dominate many midfield battles, while his technical ability, pace and direct running will see him transition the play from defence to attack consistently in the midfield.
Henderson has already showed an improved sense of positioning and timing to arrive in the box over preseason. He may well combine with Can to contribute double figures this campaign.
He Will Be a Midfield Starter by Christmas
As much as Can has impressed over the course of preseason, it is likely that Rodgers will start the season with his tried-and-trusted midfield trio of Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho, with Joe Allen and Can as rotation options.
And as Adam Lallana returns from injury and Raheem Sterling provides stronger support as the No. 10 rather than in his normal wide-forward role, Can’s initial involvement in the first team may be out of squad rotation and the fact that the Reds are competing in four competitions.
Yet from his brief cameos during preseason, Can’s qualities are clear, and as Rodgers grants him sporadic first-team minutes across different competitions, his technical ability, physical fitness and leadership will start to shine through.
Even if he doesn’t start the campaign in the first XI, he will become a fixture in the first team by the hectic Christmas period, where he will become an indispensable member of the squad.
He Will Become Liverpool’s Preferred Stand-in Left-Back
According to WhoScored.com, out of Can’s 24 starts for Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga last season, eight of them were as left-back, which is both surprising and impressive for a player most notably known as a defensive midfielder.
But a simple look at his performances in midfield will show the qualities he has that allow him to excel as a left-back.
Given time and an extended run-out in the position, Can might yet blossom into an excellent left-back—Wolfsburg’s Ricardo Rodriguez is similarly physically dominant yet technically accomplished—but Liverpool need him in the middle of the park.
Can is good enough to be the starting left-back as things stand, but with Alberto Moreno seemingly finally nearing a switch to Anfield (per the Mirror), Rodgers may yet have a new first-choice left-back at his disposal. But Can will be his backup if need be.
He Will Become 1 of the Premier League’s Most Highly Rated Midfielders
The Premier League is home to some of the most exciting defensive and box-to-box midfield talent around: The presence of Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and Aaron Ramsey has been bolstered by the additions of Nemanja Matic and Fernando this calendar year.
And Can has the ability to make it into that elite bracket, even at such an early stage of his career.
While he won’t immediately overshadow the above names, he will certainly make his own, and over the course of the season, he will become one of the Premier League’s most highly rated midfielders.
The exciting thing about this Liverpool midfield is that while Can, Henderson and Coutinho have the ability to shine already this season, they still have their peak years ahead of them, and if Reds fans are lucky, they will get to witness the full potential of this combination in just a few years.
He Will End the Season as 1 of the Year’s Best Bargain Buys
According to the Liverpool Echo, Liverpool paid a fee of about £9.75 million to secure Can’s signing from Leverkusen this summer, after meeting the release clause in his contract.
Which, given his already evident qualities and his apparent potential, makes him out to be a real snip, especially when compared to the inflated fees of £16 million and £15 million for Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen, respectively.
Rodgers’ more extravagant transfer deals have been balanced out by some very shrewd buys. Can’s addition belongs in the Daniel Sturridge and Coutinho bracket of excellent value-for-money signings.
Come the end of the season, if he progresses to our predictions, he’ll undoubtedly be near the top of the best bargain-buy lists as far as the Premier League is concerned.