EPL

Virgil van Dijk comparisons a ‘massive compliment’ for Jarell Quansah

By Sports Desk March 29, 2024

Jarell Quansah is relishing playing alongside Virgil van Dijk in Liverpool’s defence in a breakthrough season he admits has “exceeded all expectations”.

Twenty-one-year-old Reds academy product Quansah, who was on loan at Bristol Rovers last season, came off the bench to make his Liverpool first-team debut in August.

He has played a further 24 times for the Merseysiders in all competitions, and started each of the last four games, including the 1-1 Premier League draw with Manchester City and 4-3 FA Cup quarter-final loss at Manchester United, partnering Van Dijk at centre-back in both matches.

Quansah – also a League Cup winner in the past few weeks – has been referred to as “Virgil 2.0” by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, and the England Under-21 international said: “A massive compliment.

“I think what he (Van Dijk) has been doing over the past five or 10 years has been unrivalled, especially in the Premier League. He’s had flawless seasons, he’s been a vital part of what Liverpool’s identity has been. So to play next to him is so good and I can learn so much from him.

“There’s times where he’s constructive and just says it how it is and tells me what I need to improve on, and there’s times where, especially on the pitch because the crowd’s loud, he needs to shout and make examples in different ways.

“You can’t go much wrong if you just listen to what he’s saying! He’s always in your ear, always talking, which is so helpful.”

Quansah has also expressed his gratitude to Klopp, who is departing at the end of the season.

He said: “I think you’ve got to see it as what he’s done for you and not the fact that he’s leaving, the opportunity he has given you, how much you’ve learnt from him.

“For me Jurgen is leaving, probably too early, but I get to play under a new manager and take his advice, and I’m thankful for everything he’s done for me.”

Quansah has been with Liverpool since he was five years old, while his international experience, prior to being called up to the Under-21s this season, included helping England Under-19s become European champions in 2022.

Asked about his emergence this term, Quansah said: “It’s been a lot of games, a surprise from what I expected really – it’s exceeded all expectations, to say the least.

“I probably haven’t had a ‘pinch myself’ moment – I think for me it’s just all about playing football, and it’s what I’ve been doing since I was five.

“Although the level has increased it’s just what I’ve been doing and what I enjoy. I’ve been striving for it and waiting for the opportunity and I’m thankful it’s come.

“When you’re younger you have all these aspirations, sometimes stupid aspirations of being the best player in the world.

“I think just being able to be in the position I’m in at the minute and learn from some of the best managers and players in the world hopefully puts me in good stead for the future. That is the goal, to be a starting centre-back for Liverpool and be in contention for England.

“I’m just learning the whole time. Hopefully in the summer I’ll get that moment where I’ll be like ‘it’s been a good year-and-a-half’. But I’m not the finished product. I’m not really reflecting on my career and thinking how good I’ve been because I can be so much better.”

On going up against Erling Haaland in the City match, Quansah said: “I think you sleep better after the game, you’re mentally drained! You have to just be on top of everything at every moment really. I was really, really focused.”

After the subsequent frustration of the “massive opportunity missed” in the cup tie at United, Quansah played in England Under-21s’ 7-0 Euro 2025 qualifying win over Luxembourg on Tuesday ahead of Liverpool resuming their league title push with Sunday’s home clash with Brighton.

Related items

  • Eddie Howe underlines Alexander Isak’s importance to Newcastle after Spurs win Eddie Howe underlines Alexander Isak’s importance to Newcastle after Spurs win

    Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has warned Newcastle they would have to start again if they sold star striker Alexander Isak this summer.

    The 24-year-old Sweden international, the Magpies’ £63million record signing, has been linked with both Arsenal and Tottenham in recent weeks amid the perception that the Saudi-backed club may have to trade to comply with profit and sustainability rules.

    Isak enhanced his blossoming reputation further with a superb double in a 4-0 Premier League victory over Champions League-chasing Spurs at St James’ Park on Saturday to take his tally for an injury-interrupted season to 21.

    Asked about the need to retain his services, head coach Howe said: “We are trying to build a team, we are trying to grow everything, really, upwards and to do that as quickly as possible and as efficiently as you can, you need to keep your best players, otherwise you enter a different period where you go into transition and you have to start again.

    “Your top players, the elite ones, are so difficult to recruit, they’re so difficult to find, so when we get them, we’ve got to try to keep them.”

    Isak left Micky van de Ven sitting on his backside to open the scoring on the half-hour and when Anthony Gordon did the same two minutes later, the visitors were in trouble.

    Isak’s equally accomplished 51st-minute finish put the result beyond doubt and Fabian Schar added the flourish at the death with a thumping header on a day when the Magpies’ game-plan worked to perfection.

    For long periods, they were content to allow Spurs possession – they had just a 27 per cent share – and back themselves both to deny them clear-cut chances and to hit them on the break, and Howe could not have asked his players to execute his instructions any more comprehensively.

    Asked how good Isak could be, Howe said: “For me, he’s so exciting to work with, he’s got so many facets to his game we can explore and try to make better.

    “First and foremost, he has the undeniable quality that he wants to score, he needs to score – that’s a great characteristic for any striker to have.

    “But he also plays for the team, he doesn’t play for himself, which is rare. You can see him linking play and doing things that the team needs, not just what he needs. I thought it was a great performance from him today.”

    It proved a testing day for Ange Postecoglou’s men, who were trounced 6-1 in the corresponding fixture last season before his arrival, although the Australian played down the significance of that result.

    Postecoglou said: “I think there are other explanations beyond that as to why we didn’t perform. Some of it is down to the opposition, some of it is just down to us.

    “We didn’t really get a control of the game, like we have been, and we paid a price for that.”

  • Killer instinct of matchwinner Sammie Szmodics lacking for Leeds – Daniel Farke Killer instinct of matchwinner Sammie Szmodics lacking for Leeds – Daniel Farke

    Daniel Farke admitted the killer instinct of Blackburn’s Sammie Szmodics was lacking from his Leeds side after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat dealt a blow to their automatic promotion hopes.

    Leeds dominated the Championship encounter at Elland Road but could not turn possession into goals.

    Farke’s side remain third in the table when a win would have seen them seize the initiative from top two Leicester and Ipswich.

    Farke said: “When you face a side like Blackburn with a player like Szmodics, he showed the quality which we didn’t show today and he needed just one chance to score.

    “So many balls went through the box, but you also need to show the quality to put the ball in the net.

    “If you don’t score you have so much more risk. There is also a danger there will be one moment for your opponent and they can score. It’s pretty disappointing and frustrating for us.

    “We didn’t put the ball into the net. If you don’t score, you can’t win the game.”

    Despite his players missing the chance to steal a march on their rivals, Farke refused to put the blame on them.

    He said: “It’s up to me if we don’t score – to find solutions. I have to work with them so that in the next game we create more chances.

    “It’s up to us in training to work on our efficiency and create more chances. Today we have created more than enough chances to score. I’m not the guy to point the finger at the players when we don’t score.

    “If a team fights to survive and fights against relegation, if they try to annoy us with time wasting and whatever, it’s nothing that I can influence.”

    Szmodics dealt the killer blow with a cool finish eight minutes from time as the visitors went route one.

    Sam Gallagher headed on a long ball from Aynsley Pears before Tyrhys Dolan turned and fed Szmodics and he did the rest with a composed finish past Illan Meslier.

    The Leeds goalkeeper had saved from Szmodics with Blackburn’s only effort of the first period, while Pears had saved from Crysencio Summerville, Wilfried Gnonto and Connor Roberts as the home side failed to make their dominance pay.

    Blackburn head coach John Eustace was full of praise for his side.

    He said: “I was very proud of the effort the boys have given me since I came in, it has been outstanding.

    “To come here and play like we did was great. We had a game plan without the ball. I am delighted with the effort and very proud of them.”

    Blackburn bounced back from a 5-0 defeat at Bristol City in midweek and that resilience was what pleased Eustace the most.

    He added: “Wednesday was a bit of a blip. That certainly wasn’t a team that I have been a part of. We have been very difficult to beat.

    “It’s very important that we keep working hard, sticking together. We have three games left and we still need points.”

    Eustace praised Szmodics, adding: “Sammie, without his goals this season, we really would have been in trouble. The rest of the group have created those chances for him.

    “Since I’ve been here he has been magnificent. To score 30 goals in the Championship is a fantastic effort.”

  • Antoine Griezmann bags brace as Atletico Madrid beat Girona Antoine Griezmann bags brace as Atletico Madrid beat Girona

    Antoine Griezmann struck in both halves as Atletico Madrid consolidated fourth spot in LaLiga with a 3-1 victory over rivals Girona.

    The capital club got off to a slow start, falling behind in the fourth minute when a slick move finished with Yangel Herrera rolling through to Yan Couto, whose strike from a narrow angle was turned in at the back post by Artem Dovbyk.

    But they were back on level terms in the 34th minute after Miguel Gutierrez handled in the area, with Griezmann dispatching the resulting penalty despite Girona goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga guessing the right way.

    In the sixth minute of added-on time at the end of the first half, Alvaro Morata kept the ball in play on the left touchline and his cross led to Angel Correa stealing in between two defenders to head home.

    Griezmann then gave Atletico some breathing room in the 50th minute, firing high beyond Gazzaniga after Rodrigo De Paul’s cross had fallen into his path following a deflection from Jhon Solis.

    Atletico are now five points clear of Athletic Bilbao, who are fifth, and moved to within four of third-placed Girona, whose hopes of pipping Barcelona as runners-up suffered a setback.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.