Virgil van Dijk defends Jarell Quansah comments on Matip injury – “Too soon”

Virgil van Dijk admits Jarell Quansah‘s comments regarding Joel Matip‘s injury were not worded “in the right way” but insists they were made in good faith.

Quansah raised eyebrows in a recent interview when he revealed his intention was always to leapfrog Matip in the defensive pecking order.

The Cameroonian centre-back sustained an ACL injury during the 4-3 win at home to Fulham earlier this month, which may well have been his last game for the club given that his contract expires this summer.

When asked about what Matip’s absence may mean for his own game time, the 20-year-old attracted plenty of attention with his response.

“Obviously, it’s a shame what happened to Joel and my condolences go to him,” said the youngster.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool's Jarell Quansah during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“But my idea was to try and get over him anyway and try and be a starting centre-back in the Premier League.”

Captain Virgil van Dijk has since leapt to the defence of his fellow centre-back, stating that it it “good” to have such an attitude even if the comments didn’t quite come off as intended.

“I think it came across a little bit not in the right way,” Van Dijk explained after his side’s victory over Burnley, as quoted by the Liverpool Echo.

“It’s good that he thinks like this in my opinion. But it was maybe too soon [after Matip’s injury] for him to say it in the way it came across. I don’t think he meant it in that way.

“When I was 20 I’d also maybe say certain things that come across differently. I totally understand where he’s coming from. But we shouldn’t forget what Joel has done for this club and the contribution to the success we’ve had.”

While the comments may have initially come across as somewhat blunt, the reality is that Matip’s absence has seen Quansah’s role within the side increase.

The youngster has played 14 times for the Reds so far in 2023/24, with four starts coming since his counterpart suffered the injury at the start of December.

He has enjoyed something of a breakthrough season under Jurgen Klopp, and will be hoping to play a part in Liverpool’s hunt for silverware on four fronts between now and May.