Liverpool are learning a harsh lesson with Emre Can refusing to extend his contract... they cannot afford a ￡40million player leaving for nothing
- Emre Can may leave Liverpool for nothing as contract negotiations stall
- Can has been an essential cog in the midfield, making key chances and tackles?
- Jurgen Klopp is relaxed, but this was an avoidable situation for Liverpool?
Can?you play football by numbers? This is an era when statistics have become king and a player’s importance is measured by the digits they produce.
So with that in mind, where does the much-discussed Emre Can fit in the scheme of Liverpool’s midfield, a midfield that could, against Southampton, welcome back the much-missed Adam Lallana after a serious thigh injury?
Can, after nine Premier League appearances, is the only one of the five midfielders yet to score a goal in the league this term; but he has the most assists (two), is second only to Jordan Henderson in tackles made (15) and is third (nine) behind the captain and Philippe Coutinho for chances created.
Emre Can may leave for nothing in the summer as contract negotiations with Liverpool stall
The numbers back up what the eyes see: the conclusion to be made from watching the Germany international is that this is a young midfielder maturing all the time and approaching his peak years; he is getting better and becoming more consistent.
The numbers that matter most now with Can, however, are the ones that buzz around his contract: the terms he reportedly wants, the figures (a release clause) that Liverpool won’t entertain and the money the club are set to miss out on.
Sportsmail reported two weeks ago that there is resignation at Anfield that the 23-year-old will run down his contract and move elsewhere, with it being reported earlier this week that Borussia Dortmund want to bring Can back to Germany.
Dortmund are the latest club to be linked with him, joining Juventus, Bayern Munich and even Manchester City – Can played briefly for Pep Guardiola in Munich four years ago – as possible suitors. It is clear to see he won’t be short of offers.
Jurgen Klopp is not flustered about the situation and will continue to play the German
He will, of course, be able to sign a pre-contract with a continental side in little more than six weeks but Jurgen Klopp is not flustered about the situation, insisting he will play him until he sees any sign that it has caused a distraction.
We have reached this stage because Liverpool will not give him the release clause that he wants and you can understand the club’s position: if they give it to one player, they have to give it to everyone that asks and that, ultimately, puts them in a weaker position.
Yet at a club that prides itself on being financially prudent, how can a ￡40million asset be allowed to stroll away with Liverpool receiving a penny? This situation should have been headed off long ago, not left to a point where there is a drift towards an inevitable conclusion.
Leon Goretzka, the Schalke midfielder, is among those touted as Can's replacement
You cannot help but wonder, though, that Klopp – if he really wanted Can to sign – would have done something sooner to prevent this climax; perhaps he has alternatives in mind for the next phase of Liverpool’s development.
Leon Goretzka, the Schalke midfielder, is in an identical situation to Can and is being pursued by a number of Europe’s top clubs; if Liverpool were to swap one German for another, maybe then some good could come of the situation.
Should he be allowed to walk away for nothing, though, it will be a salutary lesson for Liverpool’s technical staff. One they cannot allow to happen in the future.?
SIGURDSSON MUST STEP UP?
Everton's search for a new permanent manager is the topic that currently dominates all others at Goodison Park but it does mean other issues have been forgotten.
As the season heads into its defining phase - the relentless grind of a game every three days all the way into Christmas and beyond - the club are still waiting to see what the ￡45million they invested in Gylfi Sigurdsson will bring them.
On this weekend 12 months ago, Sigurdsson was the man-of-the-match for Swansea in a 1-1 draw at Goodison. He scored his side’s penalty and left Ronald Koeman convinced he would be a prime target for the summer window.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is yet to contribute a league goal or assist since his ￡45million transfer
Koeman wanted Sigurdsson almost to the exclusion of everyone else and Everton made their first move to sign the Iceland international in May; three months later, he arrived for a fee that dwarfed anything Everton had ever spent before.
After 11 Premier League games in 2016-17, he had two goals and three assists. His tally as he prepares to play his eleventh game for Everton? Zero and zero. Those numbers will be gnawing away at Sigurdsson as he looks to make the kind of impression that was expected.
Had a striker arrived for that kind of money and failed to score, the inquests would be continuing on an almost daily basis. Sigurdsson has managed to stay out of the glare of the spotlight so far but, the longer his barren run continues, he will find it unavoidable. It is time to make an impact.
'Kenny', the biopic of former Liverpool player and manager Dalglish, premiered this week
MOMENT OF THE WEEK
This latest column could not pass without reference to the Kenny Dalglish biopic, which premiered on Wednesday evening. He and his family have been overwhelmed by the reception this outstanding production has received.
It is a ‘must see’ for every Liverpool fan, and it really should be for every current Liverpool player too. The film chronicles Dalglish’s life and times but it also provides valuable lessons from the most seismic events in the club’s history.
Several members of Liverpool’s squad – headed by captain Jordan Henderson – attended the opening night at FACT cinema in the city centre. There would be worse ideas than to have a screening for the entire playing staff, young and old, at Melwood at some point too.
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