Virgil van Dijk has moved to defend an interview by Jarell Quansah last week. The Liverpool captain feels it came too soon.
Jarell Quansah has taken enormous strides in 2023. At the start of the year, he was absolutely nowhere near the first team. He ends it as a firm member of Jurgen Klopp's squad - and having started multiple Premier League fixtures.
Quansah has even jumped up in the pecking order at centre-back. Injuries are the primary reason why - both in the position and at full-back. Joe Gomez has essentially become a full-time full-back as he covers Trent Alexander-Arnold and the left-back roles. Both Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas are now out long-term.
But the primary reason Quansah took a step forward was the awful ACL injury to Joel Matip. The veteran centre-back will miss the rest of the season, which has provided an opportunity to the younger teammate.
That's something Quansah recently talked about to LFCTV.
"So obviously, it’s a shame what happened to Joel (Matip) and my condolences go to him," he said. "But my idea was to try and get over him anyway and try and be a starting centre-back in the Premier League."
The sentiment hasn't been taken perfectly by everyone. Quansah shows ambition there, of course, but has apparently been accused of showing a lack of respect for Matip.
It's something Virgil van Dijk has stepped forward to address.
"I think it came across a little bit not in the right way," said Van Dijk, per the Liverpool Echo. "It's good that he thinks like this in my opinion. But it was maybe too soon [after the injury to Joel Matip] 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."
It's honestly the perfect response from the Liverpool captain. Everyone knows Van Dijk and Matip are close, with Quansah's words almost certainly irking the Dutchman.
But he's shown an incredible amount of understanding here and came out with a way of addressing things that defends both players. It's things like this that demonstrate exactly why Van Dijk became Liverpool captain in the summer.