Emre Can may have played his last game for Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp having confirmed a season-ending injury for man running down his contract.
The Germany international is yet to commit to fresh terms at Anfield and will drop into the free agent pool this summer if no agreement is reached.
Liverpool had been hoping that they would benefit from Can’s talents until at least the climax of the 2017-18 campaign, but a knock picked up against Watford has forced him onto the sidelines.
Pressed by Sky Deutschland on whether an unfortunate injury had ended the midfielder’s season, Reds boss Klopp said: “Yes.”
Can’s woes add to the troubles being endured by Liverpool at a crucial stage of the season, with Adam Lallana and Joel Matip having also suffered untimely knocks.
Klopp added: “If you lose three players in a week, that is of course not good.”
Liverpool had been reluctant to rule Can out of their run-in after seeing him forced off in a 4-0 victory over Watford on March 17.
Klopp had told the club’s official website when asked for an update on Monday: “[He is receiving] treatment and we’re still hoping it will be a little bit quicker than maybe we thought in the first moment. But we cannot say anything else.”
With it having now been confirmed that Can will not be returning, Liverpool must make do without him.
They secured a 3-0 lead at Anfield without Can, but will also be unable to call upon fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson at the Etihad Stadium – with Georginio Wijnaldum being asked to provide cover in a holding role for the Reds’ suspended skipper.