Virgil van Dijk’s help and the Jarell Quansah story after Liverpool to Bristol Rovers loan move

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Jarell Quansah has trained with the world’s best players - and is now at Bristol Rovers

Jarell Quansah is a student of the beautiful game and at Bristol Rovers, he hopes to graduate from the school of hard knocks.

The 20-year-old is on loan at the Gas until the end of the season and has joined from Premier League giants Liverpool. It is the first time in his career that he has left his home comforts of nearby Warrington and headed down South for his first experience of senior-level football. In his first taste of senior football, he suffered a crushing 5-1 defeat to Morecambe but exited the Globe Arena as the best-performing player that day for the visitors.

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Before joining Rovers, Quansah had only played at age grade level and came highly thought of. Last summer he was part of the England Under-19 team that won the European Championship, along with Bristol City’s £25m rated star Alex Scott. A month before his arrival at the Memorial Stadium, he was on a warm-weather training camp with the first team and trained alongside the likes of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firminio. Quansah was also involved in their pre-season camp and gained a valuable experience in training alongside Virgil van Dijk, arguably the best defender in the professional game.

"Training with players that are world-class players, they are the best examples that you are going to get," said Quansah.

"Virgil is the most complete centre-back there has ever been, to be honest. Playing with the likes of him, it’s an experience most other players don’t get, you have to be a sponge and take everything. He marshalls you through the game, he makes the game seem real easy, to be honest.

In recent weeks at his parent club, Jurgen Klopp has looked to Stefan Bajcetic, an 18-year-old midfielder from their academy. He has played six times in the Premier League, and whilst Quansah is two years older than him, there is a hope that he can return to Anfield, and one day become a senior player for the Reds.

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"It’s why you’re at Liverpool, waiting for that one opportunity to show what you can do. Stef did unbelievable, and he’s younger than me but seeing him do it, it is positive that if he can do it, you can try and replicate it.

"It’s always the plan. A regular for a world class team like Liverpool. It will be great, but any opportunity you get in the short-term, I’ll happily take it and show what I can do."

For Rovers to secure the signature of Quansah took a lot of hard work. Premier League clubs have to do their due dilligence when sending out their highly-rated prospects out on loan as one bad loan spell can derail their development and put them on the wrong path.

At Rovers, Joey Barton has built his sides around a strong core that he has assembled, as well as recruiting some of the best young talents across the top two tiers of English football. The success of Elliot Anderson, who is now playing in the Premier League for Newcastle United is an example of that.

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Barton went through the effort of washing Quansah in the flesh to make a decision as to whether he should sign him or not. The 40-year-old watched him against PSG, and that played a part in Quansah signing on loan. He was blown away as to the dream that Barton sold him and how keen he was for him to join him, albeit for a small part of his career.

“In my head, I was out to try and to impress no matter who is in the stands,” he revealed. “The fact Joey is there and could see I had a good game. It’s about impressing every game you step foot on the pitch.

“It was the keenness and the trust that I heard from the manager, that was it really. I could tell that he really wanted us to come down and as a club when they’re really passionate about you, it’s only right that you definitely go there.”

Barton has been in a similar situation to Quansah in that he first had to graduate from an academy, and then go in to the senior game. He broke into Manchester City’s first-team rather than going out on loan and played for the Citizens, as well as Newcastle, QPR, and Marseille, whilst winning the Championship with Burnley.

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The former Clarets midfielder throughout his playing and managerial career has been known to be straight-talking, and whilst it may divide opinion, it is an attribute that Quansah likes in his manager. He believes that his approach with players will benefit his development.

He added: “He’s had a top career himself, for someone like him to be your manager, it is top. He’s done it at the best levels, and he says it how it is.

“If you do something wrong he’ll bring you up on it, no matter how old or young you are. It’s good to have a manager that can be completely honest with you.”

Quansah comes from a footballing family, and whilst he grew up in an era where Fernando Torres was the star for the Reds during their trophy-barren spell, his allegiances are not to one particular club. He does have a firm commitment to football however and has spent his time studying various levels of the game.

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His older brother Keenan plays for Southport in the National League North, with his grounding being at Accrington Stanley before a career in the non-league. Keenan is 25 years old and five years his senior, but whilst he hasn’t been at a world-class team like Liverpool, he has been able to share the experiences of what it is like to play in the senior game, which is what Jarell is only an infant in.

"I do watch a lot of football," Quansah admitted. I do study the game quite a lot. When I was in Liverpool, most Saturdays I watched League One and Two football, I watched Conference North because my brother plays.

"It really comes from my brother who has been in around stuff like that, he’s told me a few bits like what the dressing room is like, what it means for manager’s jobs and stuff. It’s not really surprising, but being amongst it 24/7 is a valuable experience. It’s about making sure that you are always ready and being best prepared. If anything does come up, whatever the pathway is you’ve done your research, everything you can, and the best you’ve done on the pitch."

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