In the shadow of the super trio around Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota is also developing into a top striker at Liverpool FC – and a man for the particularly important goals.
At the beginning of the year, Liverpool FC probably no longer had any hopes of winning the Premier League championship – the 14-point gap between them and defending champions Manchester City seemed too big.
But some four months later, the Reds are just one point behind the league leaders – and ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Benfica, they are on the verge of making it into the top four of the top flight after a 3-1 first leg win in Portugal.
After winning the English League Cup in February, coach Jürgen Klopp’s team even still has a chance of the quadruple with the FA Cup.
The fact that Liverpool have only been beaten once this calendar year is partly due to the strong defence of Virgil van Dijk, who is back at the top level after tearing his cruciate ligament in pre-season.
On the other hand, the Reds’ offensive is currently working well. At the latest after the winter transfer of Luis Díaz, Klopp has enough options at his disposal to sensibly distribute the load in view of the busy schedule.
Out of the shadow of Salah, Mané and Firmino
One attacker in particular has established himself in the Reds’ attack this season – we are talking about Diogo Jota. The Portuguese is becoming increasingly important for Klopp in the shadow of the top stars around Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino.
At the moment, Jota can safely be called Liverpool FC’s man of the moment. In his second season at Anfield Road, the 25-year-old has so far scored 21 goals in 42 cross-competition appearances – only Salah has scored more often this season (28 goals).
The special thing: Liverpool have not lost a game so far in which Jota has scored! Not even on Sunday against Manchester City, when the striker scored in the spectacular 2:2 against Pep Guardiola’s team to make it 1-1.
Jay scores the decisive goals
The goal scorer has another special characteristic: He has scored the important 1:0 for Liverpool ten times this season. In addition, he has scored four equalisers.
After signing from Wolverhampton Wanderers about a year and a half ago, Jota had already made a promising start and contributed a goal in his first league appearance for Liverpool. He also scored a hat-trick against Atalanta Bergamo in the top flight.
However, a complicated knee injury kept him out of action for four months in December 2020. Nevertheless, Jota scored 13 goals at the end of the season.
In the current season, he reached more than 20 goals in a season for the first time in his career without injury.
Flexible in use and variable in his finishing
What makes Jota so strong is above all his flexibility in the offensive. Although the international is mainly used as a centre forward, he sometimes plays on the right or left wing.
“He has played in all three positions in the forward line with us and has always done very well. He has what it takes, that has always been the case,” Klopp praised recently.
Jota also impresses with his flair for being in the right place at the right time. “When I am on the pitch, I am always able to generate goal-scoring chances. It’s up to me to take advantage of these chances,” he says about his strength.
The lanky attacker, for example, has already scored seven goals with his head for the Reds despite his comparatively small height of 1.78 metres. In his total of 24 league goals, he has scored ten times with his right foot and seven times with his left – which also speaks for his variability.
Liverpool’s strategy is working
Jota’s current development is once again proof of Liverpool FC’s successful transfer policy. When the club put almost 50 million euros on the table for the attacker in the summer of 2020, this decision was viewed with scepticism in some quarters. Jota’s performances at his former club Wolverhampton had been too mediocre.
But since last summer, Jota has matured into a key player at a top club. On the pitch, he has more influence than the significantly more expensive stars like Romelu Lukaku at Chelsea FC or Jack Grealish at Manchester City.
Even Klopp did not miss the opportunity to rave about his player: “Since he has been here, he has developed enormously. He is growing more and more into the role of a world-class striker.”
Jota is “the player we had hoped for”, Klopp stressed, before adding meaningfully: “And even a bit better.”