WITH all the major goings on this summer, Emre Can’s contract entering its final year has gone a little bit under the radar — until now.
To some supporters it is inexplicable that Liverpool have allowed a player of 23 years old with bags of potential to run into the final year of his deal, with the very real risk of now losing him on a free next summer.
It was hard not to be of that view until the recent news emerged of Can’s agent pushing for a release clause to be inserted into a new deal. That is where the talks are reported to have hit a snag — one which it is reported both parties have been trying to reach a compromise over for the best part of a year.
In that time the background noise has done little to disrupt Can’s performances. The German international has been in a rich vein of form since the turn of the year, after being in and out the team with injury problems. At times, too, he has played through the pain barrier. Can excelled as Liverpool’s “number six” in the absence of Jordan Henderson and is continuing on an upwards curve alongside the captain in a midfield three this season.
Even his most ardent critics wouldn’t doubt his ability on his day. You only have to look as far as his wonder goal away at Watford in the run in last season to see what he’s capable of. He has shown battling qualities and an ability to dig in as well as technique to help The Reds secure a top-four finish last season, and was again prevalent as Liverpool brushed aside Hoffenheim in the crucial home leg of the Champions League playoff in August.
Jürgen Klopp seems to be a big admirer of his fellow countryman and at such a tender age, he is the sort of player that Liverpool could build their midfield around. That is what Klopp has already been doing with Philippe Coutinho — his free role on the left since the German took the reigns and his subsequent move into a deeper role show that he’s willing to build the side around the Brazilian.
The manager may still be given the opportunity to do so but he will have to overcome the fact that Coutinho pushed for a move to Barcelona this summer while allowing his camp to paint the picture of him being unsettled and make seemingly false claims about his relationship with Klopp in an attempt to change Liverpool’s stance.
Fortunately the club had been smart enough to secure their prize asset in January, tying him down to a new five-year deal with no release clause — obviously aware of the fact that he could be poached in the not so distant future.
Liverpool were keen to shake off their selling club tag and that was admirable where Coutinho is concerned. However, it could now backfire in regards to Can.
Some supporters took to social media in light of the reports of the player’s agent pushing for a release clause and questioned why the club wouldn’t just agree to it in order to secure one of their best young assets for the foreseeable future.
While it’s hard to disagree that losing a 23-year-old capped 16 times by his country on a free would be a disaster, accepting Can’s representatives’ demands would not be putting the club in a position of security. Instead they would be showing that they can be held to ransom by agents and would leave their “not a selling club” tag to be sullied by any club with enough interest and cash to break the clause.
Imagine a scenario where Can signs a bumper deal, which includes a release clause, in the coming weeks or months. Where last summer the transfer record was shattered by Paul Pogba’s return to Manchester United, it was completely obliterated by Paris Saint-Germain’s purchase of Neymar this summer. The record jumped from around £80million to upwards of £200m. So could The Reds really ensure they get value for a player who could be worth several times that amount in the next few years?
The obvious counter to all of this is that any amount of money is better than seeing Can leave for nothing at all. It’s a fair point and while that may benefit the club’s ability to operate in the transfer window, it doesn’t make it certain that they will be able to use any money from a sale to replace the German. For example, if Coutinho had a release clause in his contract this summer and Barcelona met it on deadline day in England, they could have had it wrapped up by the time the window closed in Spain, while Liverpool would be left with over £100m burning a hole in their pocket until at least January. More importantly though, they’d be without their star player.
Despite being of the opinion that Can is a big talent who could on to do great things at Liverpool, or another club for that matter, the club shouldn’t be compromising their principles for the sake of one player.
Some will criticise them for letting it get to this stage but negotiations have been ongoing for around a year. If a deal hasn’t been agreed at this stage it can only be because both parties are refusing to back down, which in Liverpool’s case would be the correct thing to do.
The club are finally starting to look like the real deal off the field as well as on it. To insert a release clause into a new deal for Can would be showing they can still be pressured if pushed hard enough, and would leave them open to exploitation in the future.
If preventing that means losing Can on a free next summer then so be it. After all, no player is bigger than the club.