League One obscurity to first choice at Liverpool – A meteoric rise for Jarell Quansah

In the summer of 2023, no one would have predicted that by the end of the season, Jarell Quansah would have kept Ibrahima Konate out of the side and be called up to the England first team.

Jurgen Klopp was the first to admit that Liverpool’s season would have fallen apart without the kids, and Quansah was at the heart of a truly magical campaign for the academy youngsters.

Before a ball had been kicked in anger in 2023/24, the centre-back had never played for the Liverpool first-team and would have been an unknown entity for most Reds.

He spent the second half of 2022/23 on loan at Bristol Rovers in League One and went on to settle in quickly at Anfield, establishing his place in the senior set-up.

Jarell Quansah, 2023/24

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - Monday, May 13, 2024: Liverpool's Jarell Quansah celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Aston Villa FC and Liverpool FC at Villa Park. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Started: 27 (All competitions)
On as a substitute: 6
Unused sub: 21
Goals: 3
Assists: 3
Overall Season Rating: 8.28


Seizing the moment

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 27, 2023: Liverpool's Jarell Quansah during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St James' Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A pre-season opportunity to catch the eye quickly turned into a debut just three games into the campaign, Virgil van Dijk‘s red card at Newcastle acted as the trigger.

He partnered Joe Gomez at the back in the final exchanges, which led Klopp to say he “is a real talent,” when speaking after the match.

Then 20, his cameo may have been brief, but Quansah impressed with his maturity and composure, traits that stayed with him throughout the season.

A full debut at Wolves a few weeks later was a nod to Klopp’s trust in the youngster, and soon enough he was coined ‘Virgil 2.0’ – a big tag to live up to, but clear recognition of his talent.

The manager was just as surprised as everyone else of Quansah’s rise, though, telling reporters: “If you would have asked me pre-season [if] he would be that good I would have been surprised.

“But since then I saw him every day and I am not surprised any more. It’s great to have a boy from our own academy with that potential and quality.”

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)

After early excitement, the English centre-back did have to bide his time somewhat to turn sporadic starts into consistent game time – but he had already exceeded expectations.

A goal against Union in the Europa League and a brilliant assist against West Ham in the Carabao Cup was a nod to his threat in the other third of the pitch, but it was at the back where he continued to impress.

One outing that left an impression was the trip to Bournemouth in the cup, despite sideways rain and brutal wind, Quansah proved a standout with his effectiveness.

He ended the match with an 89 percent passing accuracy and 114 touches – the highest of any player on the pitch – and it left Klopp to say, “A really good game, wow. He loved it.”

Not afraid to make a tackle or go up against top Premier League forwards knowing he would be targeted, the academy graduate seized his chances, first when Van Dijk was sent off and after Joel Matip‘s ACL injury.


Valuable lessons

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 7, 2024: Liverpool's Jarell Quansah after the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.(Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“He is progressing, learning and wants to do it as well. When he keeps doing that, we will see what the future brings for him but it looks quite bright,” Van Dijk assessed in December.

Learning from one of the very best in the business, Quansah will have known his debut season was not to be without its bumps – ones that will mould him into a better player for the future.

The league trip to Old Trafford will be the obvious lesson, a rare mistake that he paid the price for after a wayward pass ended up with Bruno Fernandes and ultimately turned the game on its head.

Klopp levelled no blame at the 21-year-old and instead offered valuable words: “Look, as a professional football player he will play in the Premier League and for Liverpool, and I have the bad news [that] it will not be his last mistake, unfortunately.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - Monday, May 13, 2024: Liverpool's Jarell Quansah (R) celebrates with team-mate captain Virgil van Dijk after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Aston Villa FC and Liverpool FC at Villa Park. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“But that’s how life is. I thought he dealt extremely well with it and we dealt well with it.”

He did play a key role in winning the penalty that would allow the Reds to at least leave with a point, and though it was a lesson he would have liked to have avoided, it will serve him well in the future.

Quansah was kept out of the spotlight for the next three games before starting five of the last six matches, a run that saw him score twice in succession and push Konate out of the side.


A new head coach to impress

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 18, 2024: Liverpool's Jarell Quansah celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Quansah is a prime example of how much can change in a single year.

He came into the campaign with limited senior experience and ended it by displacing Konate – even against Man City – and earning a call-up to England’s training squad for the Euros.

Not bad for a player who few will have heard of 365 days ago!

The 21-year-old now forms part of the next wave of youngsters ready to make their mark, and Klopp noted how “new influences” will help further his game, with his development now in the hands of Arne Slot and Co.

With a new centre-back seemingly on the summer transfer window checklist, Quansah will have a different challenge ahead of him, but if we go off what we have seen already, he will take it all in his stride.

Best moment: Man of the Match performance at Bournemouth.

Worst moment: The misplaced pass that allowed Bruno Fernandes to equalise at Old Trafford.

Role next season: Pushing for starts at centre-back.