He began his senior career at Bayern Munich, playing mostly in the club's reserve side before transferring to Bayer Leverkusen in 2013. A season later, he was signed by Liverpool for £9.75 million where he has since made over 100 appearances across all competitions.
Can represented Germany from Under-15 to Under-21 level, and featured at the 2015 Under-21 European Championship. He made his senior debut in September 2015 and was selected for the 2016 European Championship. The following year, he was part of the German squad which won the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.
Born in 1994 to Turkish parents in Frankfurt, Can joined local side SV Blau-Gelb Frankfurt at the age of six and remained at the club until 2006, when he joined the youth academy of Eintracht Frankfurt. During his time with both Frankfurt clubs, he predominantly played in midfield where he assumed an attacking role. In 2009, at the age of 15, he relocated to Bavaria after being signed by Bayern Munich.
During his first year in Bayern's academy, Can was used in the centre-back position before returning to midfield when he began playing for Bayern Munich II in the Regionalliga Bayern. He made his first team debut in the 2012 DFL-Supercup and his Bundesliga debut against 1. FC Nürnberg on 13 April 2013. His first and only league goal for the club came on 27 April 2013 in a 1–0 home win over SC Freiburg. Competing with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luiz Gustavo and Javi Martínez for a spot in Bayern's midfield, he ultimately made only seven senior appearances before signing for fellow Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in 2013 in seek of regular game-time.
On 2 August 2013, Can signed a four-year deal with Bayer 04 Leverkusen. A buy-back clause was included in the agreement which would allow Bayern to re-sign Can for a set-fee in 2015. He made his debut for die Werkself on 31 August 2013, coming on as an 80th-minute substitute for Stefan Reinartz in a 2–0 defeat at FC Schalke 04. His first goal for the club came on 26 October when he scored the winner against FC Augsburg in a 2–1 victory. Can made his UEFA Champions League debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford later that month in a match which ended 4–2 in the favour of the English side.
In his only season at Leverkusen, Can scored four goals and made four assists in 39 appearances, while largely operating in a defensive capacity. His performances while at Leverkusen sparked interest from English club Liverpool, who noted Can's performances in both the Bundesliga and Champions League.
On 5 June 2014, Bayer Leverkusen confirmed that Can would join Premier League runners up, Liverpool after the Merseyside club activated his £9.75 million (€12 million) release clause. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers described Can in a press conference later in the week as an "inspirational young talent". The transfer was completed on 3 July 2014.
Can made his competitive debut for the club on 25 August 2014, coming on as a substitute for Joe Allen in an 3–1 away defeat against Manchester City. The following month, he picked up an ankle injury while on duty with the German under-21 side and was sidelined for six weeks. On 19 October, following his return from injury, Can made his first start for Liverpool in a 3–2 win against Queens Park Rangers. He scored his first Liverpool goal on 8 November with a long-range shot past Thibaut Courtois, opening the scoring in an eventual 2–1 defeat to Chelsea. Against the same opponent in a League Cup semi-final defeat on 27 January 2015, Can was stamped on by Chelsea forward Diego Costa. Referee Michael Oliver did not penalise the incident, but Costa was retrospectively banned for three matches by the FA. In April, Can received his first red card for Liverpool in 4–1 loss to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Though naturally a midfielder, Can spent much of his debut season playing in defence, and ultimately featured 40 times for the campaign across all competitions.
On 22 October 2015, in Liverpool's UEFA Europa League match against Rubin Kazan at Anfield, Can scored his first goal of the 2015–16 season. It was the club's first goal under the management of Can's compatriot and new manager Jürgen Klopp. On 14 February 2016, he scored his first league goal of the season in a 6–0 win over Aston Villa. While Can was often used at centre back or full back under Rodgers, with Klopp's arrival he was moved to his preferred position of central midfielder. He was praised by Klopp for his improvement and became a key cog in Liverpool's midfield.
On 14 April 2016, Can ruptured his ankle ligaments in Europa League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund. Initially, he was ruled out for the rest of domestic season. However, he returned ahead of the schedule and played in second leg of the semi-final against Villarreal. Can later revealed that he trained for 8 hours a day for 3 weeks to get fit for the Villarreal game.
On 1 May 2017, Can scored an overhead kick in a win over Watford, with the strike later earning him the BBC Goal of the Season and Carling Goal of the Season awards.
On 23 August 2017, Can scored twice against Hoffenheim in the second leg of the Champions League play-off round in a 4–2 win for Liverpool on the night, and a 6–3 win on aggregate. These were his first goals for Liverpool in the new season.
Due to his Turkish ancestry, Can was eligible to play for the Turkey national football team, but he stated he "likes playing for Germany very much, and wants to make it in the DFB".
Can received call-ups for the German U15, U16 and U17 youth football teams. In 2011, he was a part of U17 team that finished as runners-up at the European Championships. He was also named in the team of the tournament. Later that year, he captained the U17 World Cup campaign and led his team to the semi-finals. During the semi-final, he netted a solo goal against Mexico: he received the ball with three markers closing in on him, skipped past one and paced forward before escaping two other opponents and evading the goalkeeper, but Germany were defeated 3–2.
He represented the under-21 team at the 2015 European Championship in the Czech Republic, starting all four matches. In their opening game at the Letná Stadium in Prague, Can scored with a 17th-minute equaliser from the edge of the penalty area in a 1–1 draw against Serbia. In their second group match at the Eden Arena in Prague against Denmark, Can hit a slide-rule pass to assist Kevin Volland's smart finish in the 32nd minute. In the 47th minute Can was awarded a free-kick, from which Volland doubled the lead thanks to a delightfully weighted free-kick from 25 metres out. Matthias Ginter rounded off the scoring to head in Amin Younes' cross just five minutes later leading to a 3–0 victory.
On 28 August 2015, Can received his first senior call-up from manager Joachim Löw, ahead of the following month's UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying matches against Poland and Scotland. He made his debut on 4 September in the first game, playing the full 90 minutes of a 3–1 win at the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt.
On 31 May 2016, Can was named in Germany's final 23-man squad for UEFA Euro 2016. His sole appearance in the tournament came in the 2–0 semi-final loss to France, a match that Can started.
On 17 May 2017, Can was named in Germany's final 23-man squad for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Can made an appearance as a substitute in Germany's first game, a 3–2 win over Australia. He would appear in all 5 of his team's matches in the competition as Germany ran out winners in the final against Chile.
Can's ability to attack and defend from midfield has seen him compared to fellow German midfielders Michael Ballack and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Prior to calling Can up to the senior squad, German national team coach Joachim Löw reserved praise for the midfielder, stating that he has a good, all-round game and that they were following his progress. Can has also been praised for his versatility which was showcased in his debut season at Liverpool where he showed his ability to play in both defence and midfield. He has also been singled out for his composure in possession, positioning, and sense of timing, while former Liverpool midfielder and German international Dietmar Hamann described him as being "physically strong, a good passer and technically gifted".As of 23 August 2017
1.^ Includes German FA Cup and English FA Cup.
2.^ Includes English League Cup.
3.^ Includes UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
4.^ Includes German Super Cup.
As of match played 1 September 2017
FIFA Confederations Cup: 2017
UEFA European Under-17 Championship Team of the Tournament: 2011
Liverpool FC Young Player of the Season: 2015–16
UEFA Europa League Squad of the Season: 2015–16
BBC Goal of the Season: 2016–17
Carling Goal of the Season: 2016–17