Profile on Emre Can

Liverpool's latest recruit, who signed officially for the club today after agreeing to join the Reds on 5 June, is an energetic box-to-box midfielder, with good skill on the ball and an excellent eye for a pass. He is a versatile player who can be deployed on the left whether to attack or defend. It is to be hoped that Emre Can will have rather more success as a Liverpool player than another German-born midfielder of Turkish descent, Nuri ┼×ahin, whose brief and subsequently aborted time as a player based at Anfield lasted a mere one hundred and forty-two days. With ┼×ahin, however, there was a rather complicated loan arrangement to resolve with two other clubs, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, whereas Liverpool agreed to fulfill a release clause of £9.75million with Bayer Leverkusen to purchase the player even though it is apparent that Bayern Munich put some sort of buy-back clause into the contract when they sold Can to Leverkusen early in August 2013. 

Can was born in Frankfurt am Main, the largest city in the state of Hessen. As a youth he was associated with a local amateur club, SV Blau-Gelb Frankfurt, but was quickly recruited by the area’s big Bundesliga club, Eintracht Frankfurt, around the time he entered his teenage years. Eintracht nurtured their prodigy well but had little chance of holding on to him once the country’s biggest club started to show an interest. In July 2009 at the age of fifteen and a half Can moved to Bavaria to join the four times European champions Bayern Munich.

At the same time as he was moving through different age groups with his club Can was representing the country of his birth at different levels even though parentage meant that he was also eligible to play for Turkey. He had to serve an apprenticeship with Bayern’s Regional League South team before being named in a senior match-day squad for the first time for the home march against Schalke at the end of February 2012. Then came four successive Bundesliga appearances towards the end of the next season and his first senior Bayern goal, the only strike of a home match against SC Freiburg on 27 April 2013. He had also played in the German Supercup match against Borussia Dortmund at the start of the season when Bayern beat their fierce rivals 2-1 at the Allianz Arena in front of a crowd of nearly 70,000.

Bayern have a commendable policy of letting young players go so that they can improve and gain experience elsewhere. In the summer of 2013 Can, now in his twentieth year, moved nearly three hundred miles north to the Rhine city of Leverkusen to join the top local club, Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Bayer had finished 3rd in 2012/13 to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League. Can played seven times in Europe’s premier club tournament, missing only the first leg of the Last 16 knockout match because of the three yellow cards he had received during the six group stage matches. Leverkusen lost 6-1 on aggregate to Paris Saint-Germain and dropped one place to 4th in the league with Can appearing in twenty-nine of the thirty-four fixtures, 24 from the start and five as a substitute. He scored home and away against FC Augsburg and also away at Eintracht Frankfurt, the club he was with as a teenager. He also scored in the German Cup win at Freiburg in December. He had four assists to his name in the last campaign despite mainly used as a defensive midfielder.

Bayer Leverkusen will have to go through the play-off round of the Champions League early in the 2014/15 season but the club Can has joined has gone straight through into the group stage. At the age of twenty this young man’s recognised first-team appearances are no higher than you would expect from someone of that age. But he really has a chance now to push his career on to another level given the reputation of the club he is joining and the quality of the squad that is already in place there.

Copyright - - written by Chris Wood ([email protected])

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