In a world filled with prima donna athletes, Liverpool midfielder Emre Can is adding his name to the list. Despite LFC manager Jürgen Klopp’s best efforts to keep the German international content, his imminent departure from Anfield seems almost certain.
For many months now, Liverpool brass and Emre Can have been playing the “will he stay or will he go” record. As Liverpool have just qualified for their first Champions League semi-final appearance in a decade, they did so without the services of Emre Can, easily disposing of Manchester City by an aggregate score of 5-1.
Many Liverpool supporters are on the fence regarding the 24-year-old midfielder. His abilities are certainly worthy of him starting for most clubs within Europe’s top leagues. This is not about the talents of the player, but rather, the attitude. Can is a good player, but by no means a great player, though he certainly still has the potential to be.
Through his own delusional self-worth and with money-hungry agents no doubt whispering in his ear, Can could be on the brink of throwing away the opportunity of a lifetime: to become an icon of Anfield road. If “playing for a winner” is an important factor in staying at the club, Klopp has delivered on this. LFC are in contention to win a sixth European Cup as well as comfortably finish within the top four of the Premier League.
In the absence of Jordan Henderson at various points over the course of this season, Can has been given the captain’s armband as a show of good faith by the manager. Can was as indecisive and distant toward the club before this gesture as he was after. No player on the Liverpool roster was perhaps less deserving of the captaincy than Can. Yet, Klopp again, showed his belief in Can.
It was recently revealed that Liverpool offered Emre Can a “fantastic deal” in the form of a new contract, which the player reportedly turned down. This should be a clear indicator, that regardless of money, success, tradition, or prestige, Can never wanted to re-sign with the Reds. His decision has likely been final for quite some time.
With reinforcements on the way in the form of Naby Keita, and the emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, perhaps Can figures it difficult to maintain a consistent starting XI spot as Liverpool’s midfield continues to improve going into the 2018-19 season. This improvement translates into more competition for minutes.
Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, and the ageless James Milner will also be competing for playing time as additional transfer rumours swirl only months away from the summer window. Perhaps Can is taking himself out of the equation in hopes of finding an easier path to retaining “his spot.”
Painful as it may be, the correct way to handle business when your contract is set to expire is Leon Goretzka’s recent decision to depart Schalke. Yes, on the one hand they continue to field a player they know will be leaving. But that’s just it, they know he is leaving and can properly prepare for his replacement in the summer.
Having said that, Emre Can does not possess a skill set that is “difficult to replace.” In fact, I think much like the Philippe Coutinho transfer, Liverpool will be fine without him moving forward. It would simply be nice to know where his allegiance lies as opposed to keeping the spotlight on himself by dragging the situation out for an unnecessarily long period of time.
Still a young player, and in my opinion on his way to Juventus, if Can learned anything from his time at Anfield it was hopefully lessons which he can later implement in his career. Examples set by captain Jordan Henderson and vice-captain James Milner. No matter how good you think you are, or what you think your role should be, you are never larger than the club.
When mentioning those two names, Henderson and Milner, we are talking about two of the most selfless individuals in football today. For them, it is, and always will be about what is best for Liverpool FC, ego and pride be damned. Some players are born as leaders and some as followers. Emre Can is neither. Emre Can is all about Emre Can.
This season has seen certain players overcome extreme scrutiny. The heart of Dejan Lovren is unquestioned. This man literally received threats against his family and yet he never wavered in his loyalty to Liverpool. Klopp believed in him and Lovren persevered. He has overcome his demons to establish himself as the optimal running-mate next to Virgil Van Dijk in central defence.
How would Emre Can handle such a situation? I honestly hope we never find out because such actions against a player, much less his family are disgusting and have no place in the world. Lovren’s situation is simply another occurrence of how so many players for Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool have taken the high road and led by example.
Whatever Can ultimately decides, whether he goes to Bayern or Juventus, he will have to prove himself all over again. The eyes of the football world will be watching to see how he handles adversity, which will surely come at some point in the future. One can only wish him well in his future endeavors and hope that he takes with him from Anfield, some valuable lessons learned from his soon-to-be former teammates.