Emre Can a true find for Liverpool

The standout success of Brendan Rodgers’s summer spending spree is loving life in England

"People want instant results and players get criticised immediately but we always knew it would take time." Brendan Rodgers's barbed comment was aimed at the media for prematurely writing off Liverpool's summer signings but impatience applies to all facets of the game. It is why, for example, Emre Can represents Exhibit A in the Liverpool manager's theory and not a threat to his Champions League ambitions tomorrow.

Can is the standout success of Liverpool's £117 million (€160m) transfer spree last year or, to use Rodgers's words, the "Rolls-Royce" of a player picked up for £9.8 million (€13.5m) from Bayer Leverkusen. The 21-year-old was also on David Moyes's list of potential recruits for Manchester United until the Scot's departure after 10 ill-fated months closed the route to Old Trafford.





under-21 international had not helped his prospects with two inauspicious Champions League performances against United while Moyes was in charge, the second coming when

Ryan Giggs

orchestrated a 5-0 home defeat for Sami Hyypia’s Leverkusen.

“I played very badly against them,” says Can, left-back that night at the BayArena and keen to avoid a repeat at Anfield. The admission comes with a smile. He know too much can be read into auditions.

Can did not complete a game for Rodgers's team until December 29th as he adjusted to the demands of midfield in the Premier League. An ankle injury suffered on international duty also affected his start and, despite opening the scoring against Chelsea in November, he was back on the bench for the next 10 matches as the manager sought a solution to Liverpool's weak form. When criticism of the club's "transfer committee" followed, Can's name was invariably mentioned.

‘Big fuss’

“My attitude was not to moan or make a big fuss about it but to keep calm and work hard so that when I got the chance at half-time against Burnley I could break into the side and stay there,” he reflects. “I feel very good at the moment, in good shape, and I feel I have the trust of the manager. I believe I am doing a good job and that is why I am playing, so I am happy.”

Can has been a permanent resident in the team since that 1-0 win at Turf Moor on St Stephen's Day, aiding Liverpool's dramatic transformation into the in-form Premier League team of 2015 and vindicating the single-minded approach that saw him turn his back on Bayern Munich at the age of 19.

“I left Bayern because I needed the game time,” the midfielder explains. “It was not an easy step and some people might not have seen it as a step forward because I was going to a smaller club [Leverkusen] but for me it was the right step to do that. If I keep doing what I have been doing for two or three months I am sure they might regret me leaving one day but I want to make clear that I have nothing at all against Bayern. They gave me lot of good things, a good education and it was my decision to leave. I wanted more game time, so there was no bad blood with Bayern and I thank them for all they did for me.

"In the long term I think my decision will increase my chances of playing international football. Without being disrespectful to Leverkusen, playing for Liverpool helps me more because I am playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world and I have no regrets making this step. It is very similar here to Bayern. The level was very high under Jupp Heynckes with a lot of passing exercises and training specific to the position you play. It's like that here."

One of the few obstacles the Frankfurt-born player has encountered since moving to Merseyside is the language barrier. He was bemused to find himself described as “like a Rolls-Royce at the back” for Liverpool when reading coverage of the Merseyside derby but given the quote came from Rodgers he put two and two together.

“When I first heard about it I wondered what it could mean,” he admits. “We wouldn’t use that expression in Germany. We wouldn’t say something like that. But obviously I know a Rolls-Royce is a big luxurious car so I thought it must be positive, even though I didn’t know exactly what it meant. I hadn’t heard the comparison before but I thought that in football terms there must be a positive association and it can’t be a bad thing if the manager is saying something like that. I understand what it means now.”

Unused substitute

Can was an unused substitute when Louis van Gaal’s team inflicted Liverpool’s last defeat in the Premier League in December but is integral to their prospects now. “Van Gaal does a good job wherever he is,” says Can of the former Bayern coach. “But I would definitely back Liverpool to beat them to a top-four finish.” Guardian Service