Editor’s Column: Jarell Quansah, from League One head-butt to Liverpool’s next centre-back superstar

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Jarell Quansah had England caps at every level from U16 to U20 before this season started… He captained Liverpool’s team in the UEFA Youth League and was an automatic starter for us in successful youth teams since his arrival in 2008.

Yet, for some reason, there was little or no hype. No fans were hoping Jurgen Klopp would give him minutes this term. There was no clamour for his promotion to the first-team. Quansah had a fairly mundane loan spell at Bristol Rovers in League One last season under Joey Barton, where he didn’t always start.

There was an incident with a red-card in which Quansah was criticised by an opponent for his recklessness.

Joe Morrell told BBC Radio Solent: “I’ve got up. Maybe he’s started a bit and he’s headbutted me. I think it’s probably [worth] two red cards.

“I haven’t made a tackle like that in my career and I certainly wouldn’t do that.”

Despite then Bristol Rovers manager Barton taking him in and out of the side, he did have big words of praise for the towering defender, which surprised many given the average performances.

“Jarell’s been excellent since he’s come in, he’s gone away with England and done well with them, got a goal and he’s come back and it looks like he’s figured out how to head the ball.

“He would probably be our top scorer if he’d had known that before,” he said in March, cited by TIA.

During the summer, Liverpool fans desperately wanted the club to sanction a deal for a new centre-back, but they refused and that decision has actually allowed Quansah minutes in the cup competitions.

So far, he’s played two full games in the EFL Cup and four in the Europa League. He’s had one start in the Premier League and come off the bench in three more to shore up matches. Without exaggeration, Quansah hasn’t put a foot wrong.

Strong, fast and imposing, he has the physical traits required of any elite centre-half, but he backs it up with composure and technical skills on the ball. It’s obviously a silly comparison right now, but aesthetically, he passes the ball like Virgil van Dijk with his relaxed gait and effortless side-footed balls into midfield.

His performance on Thursday night against LASK was again, faultless. Check out the highlights of his outing in the video, below. His passing and interceptions are good, but I especially like the recovery pace and timing of the last ditch tackles you see in the second-half.

Liverpool will always give other teams chances due to our ultra-attacking style, so you need defenders and goalkeepers who can get you out of jail when big moments arrive. He did exactly that.

Klopp was very keen to laud Quansah post-match and spoke about his new defender in length, referencing the decision not to buy a centre-back before the season as a good one.

“For us it was absolutely perfect. Jarell played a super game,” Klopp said, cited by Anfield Watch.

“There couldn’t be better news for the club, to be honest. Before this season, people told us we should buy a centre-half. We knew we had Jarell. Did we know that he would show up like this? Not exactly, but we were pretty hopeful. So the future’s bright. He is our own boy, calm on the ball, good in the challenges, quick, ruthless in the right moments.

“Besides Caoimh he had the most spectacular defensive situations when he saved our backside in some moments, so that’s really top news for us.”

“That couldn’t be better news for the club, to be honest. I think before this season a lot of people told us we should buy a centre-half. “We knew we had Jarell. Did we know that he will show up like this? No, not exactly, but we were pretty hopeful, so the future is bright. “It’s cool. Our own boy, calm on the ball, good in the challenge, quick, ruthless in the right moments and besides Caoimhin, who had one or two saves, [he] probably had the most spectacular defensive situations when he saved our backside in some moments. So, that’s really good. [It’s] top news for us.”

The great thing about our defensive situation is that it’s not only Quansah who is playing above expectations.

Joel Matip is enjoying a brilliant season. So much so, he’s arguably climbed above Ibrahima Konate in the pecking order, who himself hasn’t done anything wrong other than picking up a few niggling injuries.

Van Dijk is back to his absolute best, which helps tenfold. The Dutchman is oozing the confidence that made him stand head and shoulders above any centre-back on the planet and is clearly relishing the full-time captaincy.

Joe Gomez is showing he can play the inverted right-back position but also cover in central defence, too. What a squad player he is, capable of both.

Even at fullback, Kostas Tsimikas has found form while deputising for Andy Robertson.

With our attack always firing and our midfield finding its feet, should Liverpool find a way to become ultra-solid defensively, we really do have a chance in all four competitions this season.

Klopp will prioritise the Premier League, but don’t be surprised to see the Reds pick up at least one cup, too, with Quansah likely to be in the side for any run.

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