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Liverpool sign Emre Can: Why losing the midfielder means nothing to Bayern Munich

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Bayern Munich lost Emre Can to Liverpool when Bayer Leverkusen sold him a year after picking him up, but it's a loss that doesn't mean anything for Bayern Munich.

Johannes Simon

After structuring a presumably complicated sale/buy-back system with Bayer Leverkusen, the loss of Emre Can to Liverpool FC just one year after sending him out to develop him as a legitimate top-level footballer hurts. Even if for no other reason than it feels like Bayern Munich had the rug pulled out from underneath them. Even if for no other reason than the hype surrounding him had us excited beyond reasonable expectation.

But the truth is losing Emre Can doesn't matter. However, its not due to his prospect status, or current squad depth.

It's Bayern Munich just got a carbon copy Emre Can on a free transfer from Eintracht Frankfurt. Statistically, across most categories, Sebastian Rode is almost identical to Emre Can.

Touches/90 Pass % Back Zone Pass % Forward Zone Pass %
Sebastian Rode 69.47 83% 93% 72%
Emre Can 68.21 77% 87% 62%

Both players have effectively identical touches per 90, meanwhile Sebastian Rode is a far better passer in both the defensive and offensive halves of the field. Even before moving forward, that's already a significant indicator of Rode being a better fit with Pep Guardiola. While a criticism of this may be that both players show a much lower pass completion percent then most Bayern Munich players remember that both play in a system that generally does not emphasize possession to the same degree, nor with players of the same caliber as those employed by Bayern Munich.

Shots/90 Chances Created/90
Sebastian Rode 0.98 1.13
Emre Can 1.31 1.34

While Emre Can demonstrates a slightly greater willingness to shoot, and a slightly more creative bent to is game, their overall contributions to their sides are similar enough that there would be no functional difference to their games when slotting into the Bayern Munich side.

Tackles/90 Interceptions/90 Duel% Aerial Duel% Recoveries/90
Sebastian Rode 3.06 1.54 47% 54% 3.26
Emre Can 2.76 1.57 53% 59% 3.1

On the defensive side of the game, they're also virtually identical. Nearly identical interception per 90 and recoveries per 90 belie their positional and game reading states are similar, while aerial duels are both above 50%. While Can shows a greater physicality as his higher straight up duel% shows, their tackles are functionally identical.

Beyond the numbers though, it's the tactical uses that further lend credence to this supposition. While Emre Can would ideally be a defensive midfielder, his ability to play fullback as well as attacking midfield made him a versatile option for Bayer Leverkusen this last season. It's also why Liverpool were so keen to snatch him up for only €12M. Meanwhile, Sebastian Rode who played only defensive midfield for Eintracht Frankfurt does not have the same pedigree in terms of versatility, but direct statements from the club shine light on the idea of playing fullback as well. The positional versatility is there, it's just a matter of the coaching Pep Guardiola thinks he needs.

In light of the fact that these two player are virtually identical, with the exception of age (which, Rode is 23 and Can is 20), it's not hard to see why Bayern Munich were fine with losing Emre Can. They were paid €6.5M, and they got an identical copy on a free transfer. They sold a player who is a borderline prospect with a small track record of success, for a player with an established track record of success, both in domestic and European competition.