Liverpool are currently heavily linked with a move for Bayer Leverkusen’s twenty year old German midfielder Emre Can. A quick glance at his stats on WhoScored revealed a very similar level of output to Lucas Leiva, and as the Brazilian is currently the Reds’ last choice midfielder, it seems logical to me that Can may be his replacement. I have therefore taken a closer look at the figures to see how they compare.
As I noted in my look at Adam Lallana, Brendan Rodgers is keen to add versatile players to his Liverpool squad, and much like Lallana it would appear that Emre Can fits that bill.
Whilst I always take WhoScored’s ratings system with a pinch of salt, by their reckoning Can performed just as well at left back as he did in the defensive midfield position, so perhaps Rodgers has him down as a potential option on the left side of his back four too?
But as I said earlier, he looks most likely to take Lucas’ position, and their stats show why.
My concern at present would be that Can tackles and intercepts slightly less than Lucas whilst fouling slightly more, but at the same time he’s likely to improve with age and experience whilst Lucas from here onwards is not. The fouls stat is slightly misleading too, as far fewer are given in England than they are in Germany; teams average 10.3 per game in the Premier League compared with 14.7 in the Bundesliga.
It’s also clear that Can completed a lot of dribbles (albeit in a league where dribbling is particularly prevalent), so he has the potential to offer more offensively than Lucas in future too, albeit he only created 0.1 chances per game more than the Brazilian did this season.
Out of interest, as defensive duties are likely to be Can’s key remit at Anfield, I decided to see how a selection of defensive midfielders in England (plus Can) compare on a ‘fouls divided by tackles’ basis (using WhoScored’s ‘per game’ stats), to see if Liverpool’s transfer target might prove to give away too high a proportion of fouls, which is a charge frequently levelled at Lucas.
Can does have a high figure here, but as I said earlier, more fouls are awarded in Germany than in England. If we factor in that the Premier League sees 70% of the fouls that the Bundesliga does, then (very much in theory), Can’s fouls per game figure would drop to 1.26, and in turn his fouls per tackles would drop to 0.48, which would be the fourth best rate on the table. Logically, if he gives away fewer fouls then his tackle rate should increase too, plus of course added maturity and experience will help here too. It will be interesting to see if this theory holds true should Can arrive at Anfield.
From looking at these stats, It almost seems to me that the Liverpool transfer committee have gone ‘let’s replace Lucas’ output with someone with the potential to get better, and who is more versatile positionally too’, and it’s hard to argue with that as a strategy. I think Lucas’ time at Anfield would likely be over if Can arrives, and the stats certainly suggest that the German would be ready for the first team sooner rather than later.