With uncertainty looming around Emre Can’s contract situation, it’s hard not to assume the worst. Just four months remain on his existing deal and Europe’s biggest clubs are waiting to capitalise on a free transfer. Rumours spread in January that a pre-contract agreement with Juventus was in principle but this is yet to materialise – however, it’s entirely possible we could see this happen before the end of the season.
That being said, Jurgen Klopp and his scouting team would have already begun to prepare for the loss of Emre Can despite their optimism that he will in fact sign a new deal with Liverpool. So here are three potential summer replacements should Emre Can leave Anfield this summer:
1. Mahmoud Dahoud
An old target could re-emerge once again given Liverpool’s new found spending power with the loss of Philippe Coutinho. Mahmoud Dahoud was one of Klopp’s earliest transfer targets as Liverpool manager – back when the German midfielder used to ply his trade for Borussia Mönchengladbach, Liverpool made an enquiry during the January window to no avail. Dahoud had emerged as one of the most promising midfielders in the Bundesliga and capped off a stellar season with Gladbach, scoring three goals and assisting seven in all competitions.
Liverpool lost out in the race for Dahoud’s signature in the summer of 2017, as Borussia Dortmund snapped up the then 21-year-old for just £10.3m. Dahoud began the season brightly under Peter Bosz, given a license to roam forward within his system. However, since the dismissal of Bosz and appointment of Peter Stöger, Dahoud’s game time has been severely limited – having started just one game, the recent 3-2 win over FC Koln.
This has sparked interest from Liverpool again, who believe they have enough financial power to lure Dahoud away from Dortmund. Should Emre Can leave, Dahoud would be promised more regular first-team football and the chance to flourish under a German manager that believes in his ability.
2. Abdoulaye Doucouré
Another midfield dynamo that plays in yellow, Doucouré has become a fan favourite at Vicarage Road this season. Initially joining Watford in 2016’s January window from Stade Rennais, Doucouré was loaned out to Spanish side Granada for the rest of the season. The Frenchman would finally arrive on British shores the following season, however, he would experience a rocky start under then manager Walter Mazzarri – not making his first Premier League start until New Year’s Day of 2017.
It’s clear to see Doucouré hasn’t looked back since, as he has become one of the first names on the teamsheet for Watford. During this season, Doucouré’s early season form under Marco Silva heralded the praise of fans, pundits and managers alike. Marco Silva compared his importance to Watford to that of “Kevin De Bruyne to Man City or Paul Pogba to Manchester United” showing just how integral the 25-year-old was in the former manager’s eyes. Current manager Javi Garcia has also sung his praise – leading to many Premier League clubs keeping an eye on Doucouré.
His stamina, powerful forward running and rocket of a shot make him a player in the mould of Emre Can and an effective successor. This season the midfielder has notched up seven goals and three assists – an impressive total given his position on the pitch. To understand Doucouré’s ability, all you have to do is watch his bullet of a volley against Huddersfield.
3. Kerem Demirbay
Next up is another German talent, Kerem Demirbay currently plays for Hoffenheim and is a lesser known midfielder on the world stage. Demirbay is the most attacking of the lot so far, even donning the number 10 for Julian Nagelsmann’s side, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t fill the void left by Emre Can. Nagelsmann snatched up Demirbay for just £1.5m from Hamburg and has left fellow Bundesliga teams astounded by the bargain.
Standing at 6″1, Demirbay’s physical attributes certainly lend himself to the Premier League and especially a Jurgen Klopp team. His best attribute is being able to carry the ball forward in bursts, going round players and starting attacks; sound familiar? While the 24-year-old has struggled to replicate his form from last season, he remains a mainstay within the Hoffenheim side and has taken up the midfield mantle left by the loss of Sebastian Rudy.
With a £28m release clause set to be active this summer and the player sharing the same agent as current Liverpool players Sadio Mane and Naby Keita – the transfer is certainly appealing and definitely feasible.