The dumpster fire that is the Emre Can contract situation had collectively been kept in the shadows, until recently.
More questions were asked and those answers were pressed. In the summer the feeling from both parties was that it was going to get done. There were even premature reports that the contract had been done.
Now, with Can less than two months from being able to sign a pre-contract elsewhere, Liverpool have yet to come to terms with their midfielder.
The reports from Emre Can’s side is that it’s not about money, but playing time and a release clause. Liverpool are reluctant to include a release clause, possibly not to start a trend in further negotiations with other players.
As for playing time, well, Can has been a regular for Jurgen Klopp. Last season, he played 32 of the available 38 Premier League games. Two seasons ago, he played in all but one of Liverpool’s 15 Europa League games.
Perhaps he fears the logjam that may happen when Naby Keita arrives next summer, where he’ll have to fight with Keita, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Gini Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and others for minutes.
Juventus have long been public with their admiration for Can. Borussia Dortmund have recently joined the race, too. At this stage, it appears much more likely that Liverpool lose their young star for free.
If the club is relegated to that fate, it wouldn’t be optimal but they’d have options.
Leon Goretzka, Schalke
Replacing one young, athletic, German box-to-box center midfielder from the Bundesliga with another young, athletic, German box-to-box center midfielder from the Bundesliga? Not particularly creative, this.
But Goretzka would be a phenomenal replacement for Can should the Liverpool midfielder leave.
Being that Goretzka is a burgeoning talent in the Bundesliga, naturally Bayern Munich have been linked. When Liverpool signed Can, they did so the summer before Bayern could have enacted a buy-back clause, and realistically, any move for Goretzka should have been put in motion last summer.
This year, his undeniable talent and potential has been matched with consistent performances. Munich would be quite difficult to turn down should they come knocking, and that’s before mentioning the other reported suitors for his services from the continent that include Chelsea, AC Milan and Juventus.
Jean Michael Seri, Nice
Oh how the market has changed. Even just two or three years ago, a player even with Seri’s resume wouldn’t have a price tag anywhere near the rumored £40 million or more that it’d take to get him.
Even with his technique and indefatigable work rate, the anarchistic mindset of “he can’t be a ball winning midfielder because he’s short” would nudge out any deeper intellectual thought, and he’d be an undervalued player for his whole career.
But thanks for N’Golo Kante, and more open minds, Seri doesn’t face those hurdles.
Lyon and Barcelona had a deal in place for Seri to join the Catalan club at the end of the summer transfer window, but Barcelona inexplicably backed out at the last moments. Signing Seri would present the added gratification of nipping Barca to the finish line for a player they want. Lovely.
An issue with Seri is how well he might fit with the incoming Keita and the other midfielders at Liverpool. Can he play the Henderson role, or would he be fighting with Keita, Wijnaldum and Lallana for minutes?
But, Liverpool already have the three most expensive African players of all-time. Maybe they should sign the Ivorian Seri and double down, look to make an African Cup of Nations XI.
One of the stars of Monaco’s magical Champions League semi-final run last season, Fabinho stayed in the Principality of Monaco this summer.
Fabinho wasn’t short for suitors this summer, yet surprisingly never left. Chelsea signed his teammate Tiemoue Bakayoko, Manchester United signed Nemanja Matic and PSG spent too much money on Klyian Mbappe and Neymar. And Monaco balked at the thought of losing yet another star, similarly as they did when Liverpool and Arsenal attempted to sign Thomas Lemar near deadline day.
The Brazilian has a borderline unfair combination of technical ability and physical prowess: he’s like a meat truck with the handling of a sedan.
Fabinho would fit well in the robust nature of the Premier League, but in a Jurgen Klopp team, he’d likely only play holding midfield to free up the other two midfield places for even more attack minded players.