Time for the real Emre Can to stand up

Here’s what Didi Hamann had to say about Emre Can last summer.

“At some stage Stevie will hang up his boots and Emre could be the replacement,” proffered the German.

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Here’s what the player had to say about himself in November.

“The position in the middle of the field is the position I’m most comfortable with and where I can improve the most,” said Can.

“I hope to be similar to Gerrard. But it isn’t going to be easy because he’s been so successful. I’m trying to get the best out of myself.”

And here’s what Germany under-21 coach Horst Hrubesch revealed in June.

“I’ve just been to Liverpool, there we were told that Emre will soon assume Gerrard’s role in midfield,” he said. “Emre definitely has leadership qualities.”

The time for talking, though, has now ended.

With Steven Gerrard gone, and a season of acclimatisation under his belt, now Can has to begin delivering on the potential that has led the likes of Hamann and Hrubesch to put such faith in him.

After a stint in a three-man defence and a substantially more harrowing experience at right-back – culminating in a nightmare in the 6-1 defeat at Stoke – Can will anticipate opportunities in central midfield.

Despite being the one qualified success from last summer’s questionable recruitment drive, Can has in part been shielded from greater scrutiny by the caveat he hasn’t been playing in his preferred position.

Now he will be. And while nobody expects him to be the new Steven Gerrard – who can be? – Can can have no excuses for failing to deliver.

His performances for Germany in the recent UEFA European Under-21 Championships underline he is far more comfortable in the engine room.
The hustle and bustle of the Premier League, though, is a different matter.

When playing in defence last season, Can profited from greater time on the ball and being able to attack from deep.

But when pushed into midfield, at times he was guilty of being caught in possession.

The forthcoming campaign will decide whether the German has the substance to go with his undoubted style.