Emre Can believes the only difference between English and German footballers is in the mind.
The midfielder brought to Liverpool from Bayer Leverkusen, argued that the huge gulf in achievement by the two national sides (two World Cup finals and two semis in the last four tournaments compared to England’s tally of two quarter-finals) was not down to technique or ability.
“German people still talk of the Premier League as the best in the world, so there is a definite comparison with the Bundesliga,” the 20 -year-old said. “But when you talk about the national teams it is a different ball game.
“I can’t explain why because, if I look at the English players in the Premier League, the quality is quite equal with the German players. Is it the mentality? Maybe.”
Like so many of Brendan Rodgers’s signings, Can’s introduction to Liverpool has been a stuttering one, although the goal he scored in the 2-1 defeat by Chelsea was an indication of the promise that saw the club pay Leverkusen £9.7m for his services.
This afternoon he will be part of the Liverpool squad that faces Crystal Palace, the club that in May came back from three goals down at Selhurst Park to wreck Liverpool’s dreams of a title.
Can was injured in the club’s opening pre-season fixture at Preston and was hurt again when the German Under-21s thrashed Romania 8-0 in September. He has a similar style to Steven Gerrard’s and, in the long term, Can may be the man to replace the Liverpool captain whom he describes as “like a big brother”.
Neil Warnock, the Crystal Palace manager, believes it will take a “super-human” effort for his team to survive relegation this season – they have taken just one point from their last five Premier League games – but added defiantly: “We believe we are good enough to do that.”Reuse content