Liverpool produced a stirring display in-front of a passionate home crowd, to seal victory over Villarreal and progress to the Europa League final. A key component of the win and great performance, was midfielder, Emre Can.
It seemed as though Can, a German international, would be missing for the rest of the season and the European Championships in the summer. However, Can revealed, since he suffered the injury against Borussia Dortmund, he has been at the training ground, for 7 or 8 hours per day, in a bid to get fit for the match.
Liverpool fans will be delighted Can made it back for the crucial semi-final against Villarreal because his performance level was superb. Can was in dominant mood in the centre of the park for Liverpool, regularly winning back possession and starting attacks from deep positions. The best praise you could give the German, was that it was if he had never been injured. The question is, was this display something which Klopp can use to build on in the near future for the team?
Despite the best efforts of James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen, Liverpool have still missed the sort of drive, determination and quality from midfield they enjoyed when Steven Gerrard was at the club. Against Villarreal, right form the kick-off, Can was the player leading the press, which Jurgen Klopp likes to employ. Not only that but when Can did win the ball, his use of it was excellent and his reading of the game, allowed him to make some key interceptions.
In past performances, Can has been known to charge around the pitch, chasing the ball and dragging himself and the team out of position. Against Villarreal, the approach was assertive but in a controlled manner, one in which the team could follow and benefit from. Playing from the base of the midfield, Can worked the ball in to the feet of Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho and was able to find the runs of Nathaniel Clyne down the right side, on a regular basis.
The fact that under previous manager, Brendan Rodgers, Can was forced to play in a back three and at right-back, did not help his early progress at Anfield. Klopp on the other hand, has played the German in his true position and allowed him to mature in to the team and become a leader in the central area. At just 22 years of age, Can has the potential to become better and better, under a manager who really believes in him and will play him in his best position. With a Europa League final beckoning, Can has the opportunity to cement his place at the heart of Liverpool’s midfield next season, in what could be a season of Champions League football.
So many names have been linked with transfers in to Liverpool but Emre Can is one of a few players, such as Dejan Lovren, who have emerged recently and could save the manager some much needed transfer money. Without a good platform to build on in midfield, it’s difficult for any football team to succeed. In Emre Can, Liverpool appear to have a player who can be the base of their midfield for many years to come and is captain material to boot.
Watch Emre Can man of the match display against Villarreal below.