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Liverpool has pass-master who leaves Kevin De Bruyne behind as supreme Jürgen Klopp talent clear

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Jürgen Klopp is comfortable departing Liverpool in the knowledge he will leave it in fine shape. His heir should thank him for one gift in particular.

When Jürgen Klopp told the Liverpool squad that he would be leaving at the end of the season, he jokingly blamed them. He said that they had got ‘too good’, meaning he could walk away safe in the knowledge that the team is well set up for the future.

Many a true word spoken in jest, as they say. Clearly, there was a real will from Klopp to leave Liverpool in rude health — look no further than the fact he stuck it out last season, when he could have walked away in the manner he left Borussia Dortmund.

Yet even he cannot have expected to sign off with such an emphatic improvement in the club’s fortunes. There is still a legitimate possibility that Klopp could leave on the back of a quadruple, although Liverpool will not be allowing itself to really entertain that scenario just yet.
Regardless of how the campaign ends, though, Klopp will have left a truly enviable situation for his eventual successor. The Liverpool squad looks set up to compete at the highest level for years to come. Klopp has seemed even more focused than usual on giving youth a chance this season and that’s been a particular theme in defense.
A few months ago, that looked like the one area of the pitch where Liverpool would need to invest heavily come the summer. But unexpectedly, Klopp has given his heir the gift of multiple elite options in the back line.
With each game he plays, Jarell Quansah looks more like the real deal. He got another 90 minutes of Premier League action under his belt against Burnley, and never really put a foot wrong.
As the sample size grows, the data begins to look more and more impressive. The first thing to note is that Quansah is very much of the ‘aerially dominant’ school: astonishingly, Liverpool boasts five of the league’s top 10 players when it comes to aerial duel win percentage (the other four being Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joël Matip and Ibrahima Konaté), and the Academy graduate slots in there with a 72.4 per cent success rate.
But what truly makes it seem like Klopp has almost used a cheat code, effectively unearthing a Van Dijk clone, is what Quansah has been able to do on the ball. Among players to have completed at least the equivalent of a full match in the Premier League this season, only two have attempted more passes than the 21-year-old (all figures via FBref).

Over 3.9 lots of 90 minutes, Quansah has attempted an average of 104 passes per game. Rodri and (perhaps surprisingly) Lewis Dunk are the only regulars who can top that.

Of course, it’s still not the biggest sample size, so perhaps a comparison to Kevin De Bruyne is useful. He has also played a small number of games (2.6), doing so in the league’s most possession-dominant side, but his tally of 91.2 passes attempted cannot match up to that of Quansah.

Anyone can attempt passes, but it’s a similar tale in passes completed. De Bruyne is obviously stationed further up the pitch and therefore taking more risks, so it’s no surprise to see him drop down the pecking order when it comes to this metric. The inexperienced Quansah might be expected to fall as well, but he once again ranks third in the Premier League among those to have played any notable amount of time, averaging 92 completed passes per game.

To complete the impressive picture of a pass-master who has seemingly arrived at Liverpool out of nowhere, the profile of Quansah’s passes is nice and balanced. He actually beats Rodri and Dunk when it comes to success rate over medium-range passes, and while his long balls are his weakest area, he is still pulling off more than four per game at a success rate above 50 per cent, higher than that of De Bruyne (41.2 per cent).

This is just the Premier League picture, ignoring the fact that Quansah is joint-leader for assists in the Carabao Cup this season, with three. He will hope to be given a chance in the final of that competition later this month.

It’s almost unfair to rivals that Klopp has been able to summon this caliber of player from the conveyor belt. It certainly dents their hopes that Liverpool will suffer a drastic drop-off when the German moves on — one thing becoming increasingly clear is that he is leaving behind a legacy that will be felt long after he departs, and Quansah is a key part of that.

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