Although it is anticipated that Liverpool will look to add a center-back this summer, one academy product may end up costing Jürgen Klopp less money in the long run.
It wouldn’t come as a huge surprise if Liverpool’s squad looked very different at the start of the following season given the expected major changes at Anfield this summer. During the preseason, one up-and-coming defensive player might very well stake his claim to becoming a backup option.
It should not be forgotten that the Reds likely need reinforcements at center-half as well, even though the midfield seems to be the main concern for Jürgen Klopp and his staff to address in the upcoming months. Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konaté’s first-choice partnership does seem fairly firmly in place at this time, but the futures of a few of their long-serving back-ups are uncertain.
The Cameroonian defender Joel Matip is about to enter the final year of his contract, so it does not seem improbable that he will leave Liverpool this summer, while Nat Phillips may look to leave in the hopes of playing regularly for a first-team team somewhere else. With all of this in mind, it is reasonable to assume that by the start of the new season, Klopp will need a few more options at center-back.
Naturally, if Matip leaves this summer, a proven back-up with experience might be sought to fill the void given the recent injury struggles of both Van Dijk and Konaté (who missed a combined 20 games in 2022/23). But if Phillips also departs prior to the start of the season, it is probably fair to say that a spot is open for a homegrown talent to take Phillips’ place.
Jarrell Quansah, a product of the Liverpool academy, could very well fit the bill in this regard. He excelled while on loan with League One team Bristol Rovers last season. During his 16 appearances in the third tier, the stylish defender made an impression with his game reading and his grace in possession. This was a formative experience for him away from his boyhood club.
Back at the start of April, manager Joey Barton spoke highly of the 6ft3in (1.90 meter) starlet’s contributions with the Pirates, as the team eventually finished in 17th place in the league. He told Bristol World: “Jarell’s been excellent since he’s come in, he’s gone away with England and done well with them, got a goal.
“He’s returned, and it seems like he’s figured out how to head the ball,” he continued. “If he knew that beforehand, he probably would have been our leading scorer.”
This praise comes after Barton predicted the 20-year-old would achieve stardom and full international recognition, telling the Bristol Post in February: “I’m mindful of not heaping too much on the kids but, why not? He’s as good on the ball as you’ll need to be in terms of building out from the back.
“He’s going to grow bigger, stronger, and faster. Because senior games increase that, his anticipation for the game will be higher.”
The Warrington-born prospect has been a constant for England’s U20s team at this summer’s World Cup in Argentina, suggesting that those in the English setup have not overlooked the strength of his performances either. The Young Lions, who advanced to the competition’s round of 16 by defeating Italy, relied heavily on the center-back as they breezed through their group with two victories and a draw.
However, Quansah won’t have time to dwell on this setback because Liverpool’s preseason, which begins on July 8, will give him the chance to stake out a spot in the first team. The young player’s experience from last season was unquestionably valuable, but these upcoming months may turn out to be some of the most crucial of his career thus far.