There’s no doubt that a player like Steven Gerrard cannot truly be replaced at Liverpool. For a player like Gerrard, who had an incredible history with Liverpool, to be replaced, it would take some player – but although there are not many home-grown players at the heart of this Liverpool team, there is one foreign candidate that may be able to fill the shoes of the departing captain.
Emre Can was one of the few stars of the dismal 2014/15 season in which Liverpool limped to a sixth place finish. Playing out of position as a part of three central defenders, Emre showed his defensive qualities and also his ability to play out from the back, showing composure when under pressure, and almost always choosing the right option. Emre Can has shown in just one season that he can fill the void left by Steven Gerrard in midfield.
Emre Can also showed his leadership qualities throughout the season. One incident that stands out was Balotelli’s penalty against Beşiktaş in the Europa League round of 32. When Balotelli sneakily took the ball from stand in skipper Henderson and Sturridge and scored the penalty, it was Emre Can who celebrated with Balotelli, rallying the rest of his team to celebrate the goal. This display of leadership was very Gerrard-esque; celebrating the goal with your team-mates no matter what.
Emre Can will be hoping to play in central midfield this season rather then in defence. In the recent under 21 European Championships, Can stood out for the Germans, playing in central midfield throughout the tournament and scoring in their opening game against Serbia with a sublime finish.
It was at those under 21 tournament in the Czech Republic that Can again showed his leadership qualities. When confronting the media after Germany’s shock semi-final thrashing by Portugal, Can admitted he had a poor performance, a quality which is rare for a young footballer.
“I don’t know why, but for some reason, I didn’t show my best out there. If I am honest, it is just shameful”, Can said in an interview with uefa.com.
“Our mentality also wasn’t there — we just had everything missing tonight, but excuses and apologies are no help now”, Can said.
Admitting your own poor performance is rarely seen by any players today, and for someone as young as Can to show such class on and off the field is rare.
Can will have to work hard to gain a starting position in midfield for Liverpool next season. With the summer signings of James Milner from Manchester City and Roberto Firmino from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Can will have his work cut out to keep a starting spot consistently. But if the German can replicate his form from last season, and add a few more goals and assists to his game, Can will be the first name on the team sheet for Brendan Rodgers and perhaps in the near future, the captain of Liverpool.