Liverpool defender Jarell Quansah appears to be proving Joey Barton right after impressing once again in the Reds’ FA Cup win over Arsenal. The 20-year-old played the full 90 minutes at the Emirates next to Ibrahima Konate as the Reds ran out 2-0 winners thanks to a Jakub Kiwior own goal and Luis Diaz’s clinical finish.
Barton currently finds himself in the headlines for his contentious opinions on social media. ITV called his remarks “vindictive” after he criticised former women’s footballers Eni Aluko and Lucy Ward for comments they made on the broadcaster’s coverage of Everton’s FA Cup draw at Crystal Palace.
Yet only a few months ago, the former Manchester City and Newcastle midfielder was the manager of Bristol Rovers in League One where he worked with Quansah. He was sacked in October for results not matching the owner’s vision and transfer spending.
The Gas finished 17th under Barton last season and he played Quansah 16 times in England’s third tier after he joined on loan in January. At that time, the towering centre-half had not played senior football before having only been an unused substitute for the first team.
But Barton was very impressed by what he saw from the defender. In February, he said: “He has an enormous future in front of him. The sky’s the limit, he can be whatever he wants. Klopp doesn’t feel the way he feels about you, training with the first team, unless you’re a good player.
And that comes after the Liverpool manager said last month after a Europa League win: “Jarell played a super game, that’s true. 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. He saved our backside in some moments, so that’s really top news for us.”
Quansah has now racked up 16 appearances this season, with 12 of them starts. And he can expect many more minutes before the end of the campaign. On his current trajectory, Quansah might just be Liverpool’s long-term successor to Van Dijk as Klopp suggested.
“I think he’s got anything he wants to be in front of him if he keeps working hard and he stays level-headed.” He added: “He’s as good on the ball that you’ll need to be in terms of building out from the back. He’s going to get bigger, he’s going to get stronger, he’s going to get faster.
“His anticipation of the game is going to be better because more senior games get you that. The one concern we had when we brought him in was his heading ability because we knew he could leap, he could score a goal at the back post, but he’s getting well-versed in the physical, aerial contact.
“But the heading he’s doing from a defensive standpoint is what any senior would be proud of.” And on the basis of his performances for Liverpool this season, Barton’s assessment that Quansah’s potential is sky-high might be correct.
Klopp has even been caught on camera labelling Quansah “Virgil van Dijk 2.0” and the England under-21 international has replaced the injured Joel Matip superbly. The German labelled Quansah and Konate’s performance at Arsenal as “top, top”.