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Emre Can situation shows Liverpool are dangerously close to repeating Arsenal’s errors

Every player has a price, and vulnerability in the transfer market is nothing new. In fact, it has driven the case for change in the Premier League of late; September saw a vote for the window to close before the season starts in England from next year. A bigger club can always pay above the odds and cherry pick the best players, but the least anyone can do is make sure their stars are as happy as possible. Losing a player on a Bosman transfer is the worst crime when it comes to dealing in the market.

Player power is still rife in football

Allowing a player’s contract to run down shows arrogance on the club’s part and brings with it needless, self-inflicted vulnerability. The Bosman ruling, an ability to leave on a free transfer at the end of one’s contract, has given players immense power, but also magnified clubs’ failings.

Arsenal are prime offenders and it is the very basic reason they have struggled for so many years. Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri would all wax lyrical about Arsene Wenger’s impact on their careers, but they all left after refusing to sign new contracts because the club no longer catered to their needs.

The only option was to sell them and they have all gone on to win titles with Premier League rivals. The worst thing is, the Gunners failed to learn from the past and find themselves in the same situation with both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil now.

The list of players who can become free agents next summer is stunning; it even includes Lionel Messi at Barcelona. Another part of the rule means players can agree pre-contracts with new clubs from January, so time is really running out. Liverpool are a club whom many a pundit have backed for success under Jurgen Klopp, who has gradually improved matters at Anfield since arriving two years ago, but they are on the precipice of repeating many of the same mistakes which have held Arsenal back for years.

One of them is possibly letting arguably their best midfielder, Emre Can, slip through their fingers. Just like with Wenger and van Persie or Fabregas, the Germany international’s development is mainly down to Klopp’s coaching, but with months remaining on his current contract, that won’t stop him walking away if Manchester City or Juventus come calling.

Klopp must learn from Wenger’s mistakes

External factors could stop Liverpool fulfilling their potential under Klopp, namely the financial power of the two Manchester clubs, but the Reds are not helping their own cause in a similar fashion to Arsenal. When Jose Mourinho called Wenger a ‘specialist’ in failure, he wasn’t completely wrong. Ignoring clear issues with his squad and a refusal to tailor his tactics for specific situations have contributed to no Premier League titles in 13 years, leading to players wanting to leave or run down their contracts.

Liverpool’s frailties in defence, their negligence in not fixing them or even Klopp’s apparent refusal to acknowledge them could all contribute to Can’s exit. It is not unfair to say he will have better offers on the table come the winter; Pep Guadiola is a known admirer and his blend of tactical positioning, passing range and energy is perfect for the project underway about 30 miles down the M62.

Like Roberto Firmino, Can was signed by Brendan Rodgers but has found his true calling with his countryman, Klopp. The 23-year-old has morphed from a cultured number ten who arrived from Bayer Leverkusen into the perfect holding midfielder for a high pressure, high energy style of football. Klopp’s reign has been one of evolution rather than revolution, and players like Can are the reason the team is now built in his image. Until defensive issues are solved and Liverpool convince everyone, including their own players, of their credentials on the big stage, they will suffer the same fate as Arsenal.

Writing on the wall with Can?

Can may still sign a new contract; Sanchez and Ozil may at the Emirates Stadium, too. The problem is much deeper than just losing the player, though; it is that they allowed themselves to surrender the power in the situation. He is able to make demands because he has leverage over Liverpool, something he wouldn’t have if they had found a conclusion to negotiations much sooner.

It may now be that the best they can hope for is selling him in a cut-price deal in January to earn something for their role in his rise to becoming a possible starter for the defending champions at next summer’s World Cup.

If he refused to re-sign last year, then the writing was already on the wall. Can has never stated his unhappiness at Anfield, but neither has he openly said he wants to stay. The cards are stacked in his favour; at the very least he is going to get a shiny new and improved contract and an important role in a team which still has a huge amount of potential, or he could go on and take a risk but join a club already in a position to win trophies.

Jurgen Klopp’s reign has come under scrutiny for some time now, but the former Borussia Dortmund boss does still have the tools to bring success to Merseyside. The same cannot be said for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal; change has been needed at the Emirates Stadium for a while now. But if Klopp and Liverpool can heed the warnings of his mistakes, they can still have a happy marriage with or without Emre Can.

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