What Diogo Jota Will Bring to Liverpool

Robbie Copeland
Sep 19, 2020, 2:00 PM GMT+1
Jota looks set to be Liverpool's next signing
Jota looks set to be Liverpool's next signing | Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

As they are with most things nowadays, Liverpool are the masters of pulling the wool over our eyes. And it looks for all the world as if they've done it again.

Heading into this transfer window, we could've sworn the Reds were in for a quiet one. Kostas Tsimikas might have been as good as it got; Thiago Alcantara, who was still a fairly distant ambition a week or two ago, would have been a bonus.

Nothing is quite as it seems in the strangest transfer window in football history, however. For whatever reason, Michael Edwards and co have decided they are making a late push for it. Tsimikas: in, Thiago: in, Diogo Jota: pending.

The manner in which a deal for the Wolves forward materialised out of nowhere has shades of Fabinho in 2018. Until the day the deal was announced, there hadn't even been a whisper about it, which made it a euphoric surprise when, less than a week after that defeat in Kiev, he was pictured smiling in a Liverpool shirt.

The Nabil Fekir-shaped scars from the same window are a sign that we shouldn't count our chickens until they have hatched, but every outlet worth their salt now agree that it's a matter of when, rather than if.

It's a signing Jurgen Klopp would have been content to go without, but one he will be elated to get over the line nonetheless. Jota, to state the obvious, is not on the level of Sadio Mané or Mohamed Salah, but as a backup option? He's simply as good as it gets.

Since arriving at Wolves in 2018, he's played a role alongside Raul Jimenez which carries striking comparisons to the function of Mané and Salah in the Liverpool team. Late, darting runs to the back post have been a regular source of goals for the Portugal forward, who has scored 44 times in two seasons with the Midlands club.

But while his pace and deceptive power make him a good fit for one of the wide forward roles in Liverpool's refined 4-3-3, he is a different type of attacker to those currently available. His technique is cleaner, he leans heavily into his close control, and has the tendency to embarrass an oncoming defender rather than simply exploding past him.

He's not ostentatious, but he's a showman. Nutmegs are a regular feature of his game.

His low centre of gravity makes him such a difficult player to dispossess, an attribute that will come in handy when Liverpool face teams who press them high. We saw how the Reds struggled with this against Leeds at the weekend - so often were Salah and Mané required to play their way out of tight situations after being pursued deep into their own half.

There is a feeling at Wolves that they have the better end of a deal that will set Liverpool back an initial £40m, and that Jota's inconsistent performances don't merit such a price. His best form has come in fits and starts, and though he is capable of changing a game, he has suffered from long dry spells during his time at Molineux.

Jota may be little more than a second draft, then, but Liverpool tend to finish the article.

While Thiago represented a divergence from the transfer strategy that installed Liverpool as the Premier League's best, the signing of Jota is a rapid return to form. He's young, fit, relatively low-profile, and at £40m, he carries enough risk to keep it interesting.

Crucially, however, he will ease the pressure on a front three who have been stretched to the limits of human capacity over the past two seasons. And when the time comes, he may just have it in him to lead the next generation.