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Jarell Quansah flattered by ‘Virgil 2.0’ nickname – “I can learn so much from him”

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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.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 27, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) embraces Jarell Quansah after the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“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.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool's Conor Bradley, Jarell Quansah, Virgil van Dijk, Cody Gakpo and Joe Gomez celebrate after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0 after extra-time. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“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.