first_imgIt is perhaps an indication of how ill-fated last summer’s spending spree at Liverpool was that Emre Can proved the pick of the Reds’ new arrivals in a hugely underwhelming 2014/2015 season.Can, who was deployed in a multitude of roles throughout the campaign, showed glimpses of the reputation that accompanied him to Merseyside from Bayer Leverkusen for £9.75m.The 21-year-old, who lined up for Germany at the 2015 European Under-21 Championship, epitomised Liverpool’s season which peaked and troughed to eventual disappointment.The Reds put together a 13-game unbeaten run between Christmas and March which coincided with Can’s introduction to the starting line-up on the right side of a three-man defence.While the German was rightly lauded for his displays, Liverpool’s worrying collapse towards the end of the season conveniently saw Can at his worst; naive and completely bereft of positional knowledge in his auxiliary right-back role. This was categorically illustrated in the humiliating 6-1 final day defeat at Stoke, in which the German was hooked at half-time.Signed as a central midfielder, many Liverpool fans now ambitiously look to Can as a natural successor to outgoing captain Steven Gerrard and, again, there were flashes of evidence throughout the season.Dynamic, expansive and an on-field presence; Can captains Germany’s Under-21 side on a regular basis and evokes similar characteristics to arguably Liverpool’s greatest ever player.But while he was accomplished in midfield and shone as a hybrid centre-back during the Reds’ surge to the brink of Champions League qualification, Can’s versatility could serve to inhibit his progress as a player.The ultimate prototype for versatility in modern day Premier League football is Phil Jones. The Manchester United centre back-cum-right back-cum-defensive midfielder has become a jack of all trades rather than a master of one. Jones has publicly expressed his desire to hold down his preferred role at the heart of the defence, but his reputation as a utility man undermines those demands.Can was indeed useful in a variety of different roles, but it always felt like he was a contingency plan and he is in danger of following in Jones’s footsteps by becoming his club’s fall guy.The most worrying aspect of Can’s season is Liverpool now don’t know where his best position is and, when he was utilised in his favoured role in central midfield in the FA Cup tie with Blackburn, he somewhat flattered to deceive.Rodgers must now establish where his influence lies; particularly as Liverpool’s current central midfield options are alarmingly all very similar.With Lucas Leiva likely to leave, the Reds, arguably, lack a distinctive goalscoring midfielder or anchorman with Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and new signing James Milner all boasting the same attributes.Can, therefore, must be the man to attempt to fill the Gerrard-shaped hole in Liverpool’s midfield. While this is an unenviable task, the chances of it happening will be negated if he continues to be deployed in a plethora of diverse roles.If Liverpool fans need a trace of evidence to suggest Can is able to do so, his virtuouso performance against Serbia Under-21s on Wednesday night, which included a classy equaliser, could raise a few eyebrows.He is, of course, far from the finished article. His trigger-happy nature needs to be curtailed, particularly after his sending off against Arsenal and two clumsy challenges against Chelsea and Manchester United that led to penalties last season.But if he can learn to curb his enthusiasm – much like Gerrard did – Liverpool already have a ready-made replacement for ‘captain fantastic’ in their ranks. Versatility is useful, but it is an overrated trait when a niche excellence is sacrificed.Play Can in his correct position and Liverpool may just reap the rewards. Emre Can 1last_img

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