“ We want to make sure we look good in the best league in the world, ” Jota said in 2018 of his and Ruben Neves ‘ambition after Wolves’ promotion to the Premier League.
Now, two years later, he will be supporting one of the world’s deadliest attackers after a surprise £ 41 million move to Liverpool on a five-year contract.
Liverpool received little criticism last season after winning their first Premier League title, but doubts lurked beneath the surface of the quality of the player coming off the bench.
Diogo Jota has become Liverpool’s latest addition in a £ 41 million move from Wolves
Jota will provide backup for the front three Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane
But with Jota – who scored 16 goals in 48 appearances last season and will now trigger Divock Origi’s exit from Anfield – they have a star ideally suited to support Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane given the progress he has. booked. for the past 24 months, and at the age of 23, there is still room for improvement in his game.
The Reds have clearly identified Jota as someone who can add versatility to their front line and cover any of the above mentioned trios in the event of an injury or suspension, after acting as an attacking midfielder, second striker, striker and his favorite role. from left winger in the past.
Regardless of the position assigned to him, Jota appears to have a meaningful impact on the procedure, with good first touch and anticipation helping him deliver a useful end product.
According to Total Football Analysis, 10 of Jota’s 16 goals last season were first-touch finishes, six of which came from the six-yard box.
Jota scored 16 goals last season, but only scored once after lockdown in a game against Everton
Such performances underscore his game-reading skills and goalscoring nous, which were again highlighted by his only goal after lockdown, a thunderous finish past Jordan Pickford after superb chest control in Wolves’ 3-0 win against Everton.
A return of seven Premier League goals and one league assist last season may therefore seem somewhat disappointing, and a comparison with Timo Werner – a player who interested Liverpool before joining Chelsea – adds to that feeling.
The German forward scored 34 goals and took 13 assists for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB Pokal in 2019/20 before his £ 53 million move to Stamford Bridge, a deal that appears to offer more reward for the high amount that is paid. .
Werner revealed that Blues boss Frank Lampard told him he would be ‘free to make the right moves on the field’ prior to his move and while the German forward seems to thrive on the unknown, Jota has yet to produce something that will be comes close to his return. similarly seem to be enjoying a similar free role at Wolves.
However, unlike Werner, Jota doesn’t seem to have a set of obvious excellent traits that make it easier to fit him into a specific role.
And his end product compared to new Chelsea striker Timo Werner is much inferior
Werner – a former Liverpool target – scored 34 goals for RB Leipzig for his £ 53 move
Not known for his speed like Werner or now former teammate Adama Traore, he doesn’t have a range of skills and he’s not the greatest physical presence.
He is clearly able to beat the defenders with his burst of pace on runs, as he did last season at Tottenham for Raul Jimenez’s winner after Jota evened himself, but there are few qualities on the field that have got him going to define. .
But on several occasions he finds a way, by hook or by crook, to produce moments that do depend on skills that are difficult to coach and often instinctive in players.
Undoubtedly, his relationship on the field with Jimenez – who often made room for Jota as a result of the Mexican’s runs and passing ability – helped the duo inspire Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad to victory, just like at the Tottenham Hotspur Stage in March.
But instead of being able to perform specific functions in games, he seems to have the ability to find a way to be useful or decisive, in the same vein, but on a smaller scale, as Thomas’s role. Muller plays for Bayern Munich.
However, Jota has made significant contributions with his attributes, particularly at Tottenham in March
His relationship on the field with Raul Jimenez has also helped Wolves thrive in recent years
But unlike the former Germany international, Portuguese forward Jota is far from being the finished product, and without a certain set of strengths to work with, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp may need to rely on management invention and assess certain situations to see how Jota can best help. unlock the opposition’s defenses.
But there is some evidence that he can do just that, with notable performances facing muddled defense in the form of Spurs in March and the season before at home against Unai Emery’s Arsenal and Claude Puel’s Leicester, a match in which he scored his first Wolves hat. . trick.
A second and third hat-trick soon followed in last year’s Europa League against Besiktas and Espanyol respectively, and the league and Europe could see further improvement for goal if he is effectively tasked with examining a team’s weaknesses.
Arsenal and Leicester – as were Besiktas and Espanyol – were poor in the transition and with Liverpool known for their speed during this phase of matches, Jota would further damage defenses that still lack organization.
Diogo Jota scored two hat-tricks against Besiktas and Espanyol last season in the Europa League
Jota finds a way to be decisive, in the same vein, but on a smaller scale than Thomas Muller
Not only could he give himself more room to do damage, but at times he could tuck in to allow the fullbacks to join Wolves, and Jota’s arrival could mean even more forays forward from Andy Robertson to play the game for the Anfield. side to broaden.
His late, often unmarked runs into the penalty area mean he can also be a target for fullback crosses and other wide players, which is a natural fit given Liverpool’s flexibility in switching positions in their 4-3-3 formation. appears to be for Jota if and when summoned.
The same cannot yet be said about Takumi Minamino’s January signing from Liverpool following his arrival from Red Bull Salzburg.
The Japanese has shown some excellent signs for the Reds in preparation by scoring in the Community Shield against Arsenal after coming off the bench and another in Blackpool’s 7-2 beating.
Takumi Minamino faces competition from Jota after a rough start to life on Anfield
The 25-year-old Japan international appeared to be struggling with the lack of a defined position last season, but after tactical adjustments from Klopp and a new formation against Blackpool from Minamino as an advanced midfielder supporting the front three and a midfield two. , he could eventually plug in and be fine for the Reds.
Few have had any doubts about Minamino’s application in practice, but in Jota, Klopp has attracted a player who has had a consistent decisive impact on the Premier League and European matches, and despite Minamino’s promise, there is still no evidence of competitive efficiency from him .
Without a permanent position, Minamino often let games drift by in the second half of the 2019/20 season, following starts against Everton and Chelsea, as well as a long run as an early replacement for Sadio Mané at Molineux.
He has shown excellent signs in preparation against Arsenal, but now has to go for it
But with or without an assigned position, Jota has been able to contribute to the efficiency of his squad for the goal, but his final product remains well below Werner’s.
‘As well as having a very fluid playing style, they are very strong and have also had a little bit of luck, which is what it takes to become champions. [They are the strongest team in the league]. ‘
Jota’s words Sportsmail in April at the height of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak showed the admiration the Portuguese have for the Reds. Now he gets the chance to see what impact he can make in that team itself.