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7 Aug 2015

Molby warns: Amazing' £10m Liverpool star isn't good enough to play as a defensive-midfielder. Agree?

Two days before the new Premier League season, and Liverpool are still (arguably) lacking quality in one specific area of the pitch: defensive midfield. £10m signing Emre Can has repeatedly stated that he wants to play a central role this season, but with Milner and Henderson certain to automatic starters, there doesn't appear to room for him in midfield...unless, of course, the German is Rodgers' choice to play DM. Is that a viable option? Liverpool legend Jan Molby doesn't think so, and he's advised against playing Can in such an important role.

In his Friday column for the Liverpool Echo, Molby bemoaned Liverpool's failure to sign a dedicated defensive midfielder, and urged against playing Can in the role: He explained:

"At present, Lucas is the only 'No.6' midfield player at the club, but there are doubts as to whether he will play regularly. I'm not sure Emre Can, for all his qualities, has the selflessness and positional discipline to play a holding role".

I totally agree with this, and I've made the same argument several times. A few points:

* As Molby notes, Can - ridiculously hailed as an 'amazing' player by Kolo Toure - doesn't have the positional discipline to play there (or at right back).

* Like Milner and Hendo, he is a box-to-box midfielder who likes to get forward, and a defensive-midfielder must (for the most part) leave all that to other players.

* When asked this week about his objectives for the coming season, Can told “I hope I can get the goal tally started quickly. I’m certainly planning to score a few good goals”.

* Clearly, this is not the mindset of a defensive-midfielder, and adds weight to the contention that Can is not suited to playing as a DM.

* Lack of experience is also a compelling reason keep him away from the DM role. Can has spent most of his career playing in different roles, and in many ways, he's a man without a position.

* Ultimately, if Can is such an amazing prospect in midfield why have successive managers failed to consistently utilise him in that role? (as a DM or otherwise)

In his interview, Can also stated:

"I want to play as often as possible, and to have a good consistent season-long run of games".

With current personnel, I don't see how that's going to happen in midfield, and if Liverpool sign, say, Asier Illarramendi at the eleventh hour, it could be curtains for Can after only one year at the club.

For me, it all ultimately boils down to this: If Brendan Rodgers really trusted Can to step up and replace Gerrard, he wouldn't have signed James Milner, a player who - like Can - has rarely played consistently as a central midfielder.

All of which begs the question: what is Rodgers' plan for Can? Does he even know his best position?

Clearly, unless Henderson or Milner get injured and/or suffer a catastrophic loss of form, Can won't be playing regularly as a central midfielder.

Author: Jaimie K


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