4 Jul 2014

'I've stated this before...' - £10m Emre Can in veiled warning to BR. Trouble ahead?

In May, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodger reiterated his desire to sign 'multi-functional' players, and so far, two of his three summer signings - Adam Lallana and £10m Emre Can - fit that specific criterion. Can admits that he is capable of playing in a number of different positions, but in his first official interview with the club, he made it specific clear that central midfield is his preferred position. I've made this point several times before, but given Rodgers' obsession with versatility, and LFC's abundance of central midfielders, there's a real possibility that Can may go the same way as Sahin, and ultimately end up being frustrated at Anfield.

In his interview yesterday with the LFC website, Can twice felt the need to clarify that he prefers to play in central midfield. Here are the two relevant snippets from the Q&A:

Q: You're someone who can play in a variety of positions, what is your best do you think?

A: "I personally see myself as a central midfielder, that is where I feel most comfortable, but I can also play a variety of other positions. At the end of the day, it's the manager's decision on where to play me".

Q: Do you see your versatility as an advantage?

A: "It's definitely is an advantage to play a number of positions. However, I have stated this before and I would like to mention it again, I see myself as a central midfielder, that is where I feel most comfortable".

This is clearly a subtle message to Rodgers, and the message is: I want to play central midfield. Why else does Can make the same point twice in quick succession? He even states 'I would like to mention it again', which is his attempt to emphatically underline his position on the subject.

Reading between the lines, it's obvious (to me) that Can fears being pidgeon-holed as a utility player. As a professional, he pays lip-service to the concept of versatility, but it's crystal-clear that he wants to play in central midfield.

Is that going to be possible, though?

If fit, Steven Gerrard is going to play most league/Champions league games, and the same probably applies to Jordan Henderson, who is one of Rodgers' favourites. Add in Lucas, Allen, and Lallana, and it's clear that Can will struggle to consistently play prestige games in his preferred position.

Ex-Red Sahin also struggled to play in central midfield for Liverpool. A month ago, I noted similarities between Can and Sahin, and I maintain that view:

* Prior to arriving at LFC, Sahin was in-demand, and well-regarded across Europe as a talented, effective central midfielder.

* Like Can, in his first LFC interview, he made clear his desire to play in central midfield: "I am a central midfielder who loves to have the ball. I'm not the type of player who dribbles past three or four players and then shoots at goal. I'm more of a tactical and technical player. I like to organise"

* At the time he signed, I made exactly the same argument as I've advanced here, i.e. that Sahin would grow frustrated if not played in his natural position. As per usual, I was slammed by a section of myopic LFC fans, who accused me of being 'negative'.

* What happened? Rodgers ignored Sahin's comments about not being the 'type of player' who plays in an advanced role, and inexplicably utilised him as a number 10. Sahin consequently grew frustrated, which inexorably led to his loan agreement being cancelled.

* Upon leaving, Sahin scathed: "I did not fail at Liverpool. Brendan Rodgers wanted me to play as a number 10, but I do not play behind the strikers. It is not my real position. I talked to him and asked him why he was playing me there. The coach could not answer me. Thank God I have left Brendan Rodgers"

* Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp - who knows a thing or two about management - also blamed Rodgers for failing to properly utilise Sahin. He told reporters: "Nuri is a great player. I don't know what Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers plans to do with him, but fielding him in the number ten position is not the best solution in my opinion"

This is what happens when players are utilised in the wrong way. If Rodgers wanted a number 10, he should've signed someone capable of operating in that role. Shoehorning a player into an unfamiliar role under the guise of 'versatility' is often a mistake, and it's one that I fear the manager will repeat with Emre Can.

That said, despite the very obvious comparison between Can and Sahin, I suspect some fans will once again refuse to see the wood for the trees, and will only accept this argument six months from now when Can is publicly moaning about being played out of position.

I may be in the minority here, but for me, this is a significant issue, and there's a very real chance that history will repeat itself.

As an aside: my Can/Sahin comparison has absolutely nothing to with their shared Turkish heritage (an accusation levelled by some in the past). The comparison is based solely on their respective positions/ability to integrate into the team, and I believe this is unambiguously clear.



  1. While Gerrard still has a bit left in the tank I see Can as the long term replacement for him as the central defensive midfielder. From the bits I've seen of him, Can looks similar in his style of play to Gerrard and if we can integrate him gently in the team over the season he might well turn out to be a success.

  2. I'm not too worried by this. He will be mainly utilised as a CM, the fact he can play at LB and CB is just an option if needs must but I can't see him playing in either of those positions regularly. You bring the comparison with Sahin but they have very different styles of play. Can is a much more physical, powerful player and on paper should probably be better suited to the English game. Sahin was always a bit slow and ponderous in possession.

  3. In the long term a Henderson - Can partnership seems likely to me too, both player have the ability (athletism too?) to play as box to box which could live our number 10 (coutinho or lallana) more room to focus on creating something (assist or goal).

    I like gerrard just like anybody but i feel it's time to prepare for life without him, hopefully Can will have some playing time in midfield.

  4. Nicolas Chamberlain12:33 pm, July 04, 2014

    Can won't be playing as a number 10. We have Sterling, Coutinho, Lallana and whoever may arrive this transfer period, for that position.
    If we play 4-3-3 we don't even play with a 10. I don't think Can will be a problem but he needs to be patient. Gerrard has still so much to give.

  5. Exactly, Can is a midfielder but like Henderson can be deployed as a wing back or full back. The fact that Can has said "At the end of the day, it's the manager's decision on where to play me" should suggest that he is not going to throw his toys like Sahin did.

    Plus having a player like Can who states "but I can also play a variety of other positions" is a massive asset to have and gives the manager an option to use that player to fill in for injured players in other positions other than midfield.

  6. Agree that Sahin and Can have different styles, but the main point is their twin desire to play in central midfield. In Can's case, I just don't see how that's going to be possible in the league/CL. I also don't see how Rodgers will be able to keep Gerrard, Henderson, Lucas, Allen, and Can happy.

  7. Oh God. You're right. We're fucked.

  8. Jaimie shut up you twat. Emre also made it clear that he will play anywhere for the team.

  9. Can is obviously just paying lip service to the idea of playing in variety of positions. He's specifically asked the question *twice* - what else is he going to say?! He's hardly going to say 'I don't like playing in other positions', is he?

    That is why he makes a specific point of twice stating his preference for central midfield. It's to counteract his comments about being versatile.

    Anyone objectively reading between the lines can see this...except of course those who are hellbent on defending Rodgers' transfers at all costs.

  10. I'm really hoping for the sake of LFC,that Emre Can makes the grade and is a success at Liverpool.The LFC fans deserve to dream again,about being on top of the football world.Lets hope B.R doesn't take to long to finally get his mojo together and bring the success that LFC deserve.He's inexperience & does need time,proof being some of the games last season we should of won.Lets trust him and see how he goes,this upcoming season with all the cash he's been given.For there will be no excuses if he stuffs it up.YNWA

  11. I see things differently to what you do. What is the problem with that?

  12. I see this as him not wanting to be pigeon-holed as a "versatile" player without any preferred position. He was played a lot at left back last year, which is very different to playing different roles in the centre of midfield. We clearly didn't use Sahin effectively but that doesn't mean the same will be said of Can.. What you failed to mention is this, for me, more telling line from the interview. Can states he has discussed plans with Rodgers, something you have been critical on in the past.

    "Yes, it was an easy decision for me to sign with Liverpool as I had a very good chat with the manager, which clearly showed that the club and he wanted to sign me. This was important for me. I can say it was an easy decision for me."

  13. When I saw Can the first name that came to mind was David Liuz! When it comes to transfers I don't really trust BR. Now that Suarez "is gone" .... We gonna see the work of BR's signings

  14. Can doesn't indicate that he's discussed position/tactics with Rodgers; he just states that BR made it clear he wants to sign him.

  15. Possibly a concern, but I don't really like to criticise before the event. Yes, Sahin was played out of position, but in BR's first season, we hardly had enough players to field a first 11, hence the need to fill gaps in the squad with what was available. I don't think that is an issue any more, and I'd expect Emre to get the playing time in central midfield this time around. I expect Lucas may be moved on towards the end of the transfer window, and we'll end up with Gerro, Allen, Hendo and Can competing for the central midfield positions. Lallana, Sterling and Coutinho will compete for central attacking midfielder, and hopefully we'll purchase a couple of top wingers (Alexis and Shaquiri perhaps), to supplement Sterling, who can also play that winger role well. Texeira is another one I like, and really hope he gets a good go in the smaller cup comps. Unfortunately, think the plan is to move Suso on.

  16. And I see things differently to you. If you can't handle being disagreed with, then don't post.

  17. But I replied to Tomkorn42, you replied to me. Your point?

  18. Out of the 5 that you mentioned competing for central midfield roles, who do you think BR will look to move on this season, if any?

  19. How many central midfielders do we even have?! Gerrard, Hendo, Can, Allen in that order. Can is surely replacing Lucas.

  20. Lucas you state above, Lucas is probably the most likely, but I can also see Rogers keeping all the central midfielders for squad strength purposes.

  21. And yet again you remove my post....

  22. I see where your coming from on this but it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if we see a concerted effort to ship Lucas out now. He's served the club well but I think the time has come to see him move on. That would leave us with Gerrard, Henderson, Allen, Can and Coutinho vying for the 2/3 spots in the team.

  23. If you insist on clogging threads with pointless posts that don't promote debate/discussion, then they'll continue to be removed. This is an open forum; anyone can reply to anyone. If you don't like that, don't post.

  24. It's clear that Can's preference is for a CM berth, which I believe if he plays he will generally be getting. The main issue for me is how much will he actually play.

  25. If he had a "good chat" with him, do you not think that would have been covered?? Maybe it wasn't (stranger things have happened) but I'd be very surprised..

  26. biggestfandownunder12:47 pm, July 04, 2014

    Sahin had an attitude, and bringing his big ego from Real, he wasn't prepared to adjust his game to suit the team. BR tried a few things with a player on loan; if the experiment worked, golden; if not, no loss. Sahin wasn't (isn't) good enough to build Liverpool around (and it's certainly not worth building a team around a loanee).

    Buying Can makes this a very different proposition. Plus, I'm sure he knows he'll have to 'pay his dues' for the team, fill in where he needs to, and grab the opportunities when they come. He's a squad player this year, possibly being groomed for the DM role in time.

    If he's unhappy after six months, he'll be dropped from the squad and be told to grow up. No loss. But the difference is, he will get another chance if he pulls himself together because (1) he's a purchased player ... and (2) BR has proved time and time again, he gives players with humility the chance to try and try again.

  27. Sahin had an 'attitude'? Prior to LFC, he was a model pro, revered by all managers who worked with him. Now, after LFC, he suddenly has an 'attitude'? Sounds like the false Sturridge accusations to me. Where is the evidence of this alleged 'attitude'?

  28. I think Lallana, being the versatile player he is (with a great engine to boot) will probably be a central midfield alternative as well, though I think he is best utilised at Central attacking midfield.

  29. I never said you cannot reply to me?

  30. Not sure where you got the 'attitude problem' bit from. His style of play just wasn't suited to the PL and even less so being played as a 10. I think a major factor in the Sahin saga was also the fact it was a loan rather than a purchase.

  31. Seriously JK, it's time to drop the whole "Henderson will play cos he's one of Rodgers favourites" line. Henderson will play cos, after Gerrard, he's our best centre midfielder. He's in the team on merit, not thru favouritism.

  32. Christ you don't half know how to create a problem where there isn't one. The team Sahin first joined bares no resemblance to the one Can is coming into. Sahin knew he should be an automatic starter, Can knows he won't be and will be rotated throughout the season. Just because a player can play in multiple positions doesn't mean he will. It just means he's capable of covering for other players where necessary.

  33. Peter Stephen Nethercott12:53 pm, July 04, 2014

    Why don't you use words the majority of readers can understand'emre hasn't even played a game for us yet so theirs no comparison to be made just another opportunity for people to write plethoras of articles that just sum up peoples mentality towards trying to get a story at any cost I can always tell when it something you've written within the first couple of sentences'im fed up of this vulturistic style journalism plagued across all media formats some people need to get a life.....utter rubbish and no material to back up such idiocrotic stories

  34. I'm not creating a problem; I look at LFC issues from a different angle to most people. So sue me. If fans weren't so narrow-minded, they wouldn't have a problem with views that don't match their own expectations.

  35. You're right - Hendo is in the team on merit. He's also one of BR's favourites, though :-)

  36. As a more general point. There seems to be a surprising amount of negativity around this transfer. We've signed a 20 year old player who, for my money at least (and backed up by plenty of stats), was as good as Bender last year, who fans would be drooling over simply because he is far more established. Can has loads of potential, technically and tactically very good, an extremely adept dribbler despite his modesty (successfully took on more players than barkley last year...), strong and hard working. Maybe it won't work out for him, but let's at least give the lad a chance before we write him off.

  37. biggestfandownunder1:03 pm, July 04, 2014

    Admittedly, we're going back in time here so I don't recall the exact article off-hand (and don't have access to my database now.) However, I do remember writing a post on Sahin's misplaced expectations, still fuelled by the hype surrounding his move to Real.

    However, the quotes you've made above, in my opinion, reek of attitude. He didn't get his way, and had a hissy fit. "I do not play behind the strikers..." Okay, goodbye then!

    Incidentally, this was another situation in which BR showed hs strength, not kowtowing to another 'big name' player.

  38. For my part, I am not writing him off. I've never questioned Can's ability. My only issue is that like so many other players over the last two years (Assaidi, Alberto, Aspas, Ilori etc), Rodgers may not utilise Can in the right way.

  39. For me this summer is the first real barometer of BR's buying ability. I think previously there were a few issues... Firstly I'm not convinced BR knew what he needed (it can take a manager a while to realise how to take a team forward). Secondly I feel some of these transfers were rather forced on him by the committee. Finally, now we are in the CL we can attract that higher quality of player. So for me all his previous buys pale into insignificance if he can deliver this summer.

  40. JK was spoton on this issue I salute you,thus a number of players nolonger see Liverpool as a great club,I am sickened to learn that Sachez Alexis might end up Arsenal because of BR`s versatility thinking.BR should stop to liken Liverpool and the small clubs like Swansea

  41. sO why not highlight the bit where he says it's the managers decision or that it is a benefit to play in multiple positions. Also did we not sign him to be a CM?

  42. I think the team will have a different shape this year with the exit of Suarez, unless a truly exceptional striker is purchased, which currently i cannot see anybody who is available who meets that description.

    This being the case would mean that we will be most likely playing with one striker which would be Sturridge on most occasions. I would expect the 'Christmas Tree' formation will be used alot :

    CM CM
    AM AM

    The players that can slot into the roles then are as below with the +1 for possible new arrives in those slots.

    DM: Gerrard/ Lucas/Can
    CM: Henderson/Lucas/Allen/Can/Lallana/Coutniho
    AM: Sterling/Lallana/Couthiho/Sturridge/ +1

    ST: Sturridge/Lambert/Borini/ +1

  43. No, I don't see this happening. Sahin was a loan and Rodgers was clearly gambling with him. It didn't work out. It was a mistake but barely any of those other players mentioned suffered a similar fate. The only other time we could suggest a player was used in a significantly different role was when Borini spent a few games out wide. Two minor examples from managing over 40 squad players over two years is hardly a reliable precedent. Rodgers didn't chop and change at all towards the end of last season, his team selection was very consistent. Emre Can will likely be asked to fit in around first choice midfielders but not outside a central 3.

  44. This is literally nothing.

  45. What are you on about? Those quotes are in the interview. I don't highlight them because that is not the part that interests me. What is the point of this comment?

  46. You forgot to mention that when he was asked the second time about his versatility, when he said again that CM is his favoured position, he reiterated that he will have no problem playing where the manager sees fit. I don't think Sahin ever said anything to that effect.

    Also, Sahin publicly whined about not playing in his favoured position, while we have not heard any thing of the sort from Can, even though he played mostly as a fullback last season..

    Sahin is more an attacking CM than anything else, and does not have the versatility to even play a different CM role to the one he likes. In that aspect I think they are two very different players and to judge them as similar is unfair.

    I do however believe that if any player does not get significant playing time they will be unhappy.

  47. Paying lip service as it is something you don't believe. Get a grip James.

  48. What am I on about? Is the word highlight not self explanatory? Yes those bits don't interest you as they don't follow a forethought you have had already. This is nothing thats the point. There is no issue. CM
    signed to play CM says he would prefer to play CM but is willing to play anywhere. Is Can saying he would like to play one specific positiontactically (like Sahin said)? No central midfield encompasses more thanone position anyway. Box to box, DM, AM. All central midfielders as they are not playing wide or as an attacker or defender. Using Sahin as
    an argument about Can is a nothing. What is the point in my post? What was the point in the article? Delete away, that's the mature way to deal with dissent.

  49. So if people dont 'read between the lines' and come to the same conclusion
    as you they are just 'hellbent on defending Rodgers' transfers at all
    costs' and not being objective.

    I don't see why as somebody who has a different opinion
    to the majority of supporters you feel the need to they and belittle others
    interpretation of interviews or events.

  50. As Can is pretty young, I can kind of see him being the Gerrard replacement, if good enough. obviously Gerrard will be the auto starter, but IMO the other position next to him up for grabs.
    I do think that some space has to be made though, because we do now have a load of CM. Allen is a squad player and probably wont ever get much further than that. Lucas has moved down the pecking order quite a lot, and I could actually see him leaving.
    Clearly Can wants to play in his favourite role, and I think he will get the opportunities to do that.

  51. Is it me or do you slate everything about the club you supposedly follow?

  52. CM signed to play CM says he would like to play CM but will play wherever the manager says. This has no echo's of Sahin.

  53. All this speculation is incredibly dumb and naive. Rodgers will have sat down with Can and held talks with him prior to any kind of arrangement being finalised. No player joins a club with no idea of what they will be doing or what they are getting into. The most likely outcome will be that Can will play centrally, but as a CDM but throughout the game will pivot between positions with Gerrard, the versatility isn't just for backup if the worst happens, it's to keep the opposition on their toes. Our forwards are relentless because they don't give a defender a chance to read what they're doing because they won't be attacking one defender the whole game, they will rotate with the other forwards.

  54. I can't understand the negativity about this guy (not referring exclusively to this article) and the same applies to Lallana.
    Why the concern about where they will play? who will drop out? blah blah blah.
    I think many fans have got too used to a lack of CL football. I don't hear chelsea fans fretting about how they are going to fit Oscar, Fabregas, Salah, Willian, Schurle, Hazzard and all. into the same team. We need to have a squad of that type of strength, where there is competition and depth in every area.
    Gerrard is not going to play 50 games next season that's for sure and if we want to rest to him, do we just want to toss up between Lucas & Allen? No, we want options so form players can come in. Same goes for the number 10 and wide areas. The more good players the better and trust me, Can is good in the middle.

  55. It's true, versatility can be a curse. I was saying this about Hendeson for a long time, when he finally was slotted into that CM position continually then his performances started to improve.

    Hopefully he will do the same with Can (pronounced Chan ;0P)

    It's true thought, BR does have a habit to play players out of positions, especially to accommodate someone else. Sometimes it works other times not.

    I think it's a valid point. Sahin is a great player and if he had played CM I honestly think he would become a great 1st team player and we probably would have bought him.

    Hopefully BR can learn from this.

  56. Look at the players you mentioned there:

    Assaidi - Not good enough to get consistent run

    Sahin - Loan signing. Complained as soon as he didn't play in his preferred position.

    Borini - Not going to start over Sturridge, Suarez, Sterling, or Coutinho. But I agree with you in his first year that he was unnecessarily played out of position.

    Alberto - Young, wasn't going to start consistently (especially once we were out of the domestic cups)

    Aspas - Wouldn't start over the four I mentioned about Borini

    Ilori - Young, one for the future. Wouldn't start over any of our current CBs at the moment

    So other than Borini, I wouldn't say that Rodgers misused these players. My criticism of Rodgers with these players is that they are currently not good enough to challenge for first team time, which we need.

  57. Not a big deal. Answered the questions honestly.

    If he wants to play central midfield, go out and prove he belongs to play there over someone else.

    If he doesn't prove it, he'll play where he's asked to play. And if he doesn't like it, don't let the door hit him on the way out.

  58. I think there are a couple of differences in the signings... one was a loan in BR's first year where he was trying to see what he had in the squad. Sahin was played deep to begin and he was caught out due to lack of pace, so BR experimented with him... it didn't work and we parted ways. Can is presumably bought for depth and he can admittedly play numerous positions and did so last season at Bayer. BR has a better idea of his squad now as opposed to two summers ago... Can is also a much more versatile MFer than Sahin and can play at LB/CB too... I think Can will have a better attitude to helping the team in any position, but i think everyone knows his future will eventually be as a B2B or DM..