Diogo Jota Could Be The Difference Maker

Like many Liverpool supporters, I settled in for a long night in front of the television last night expecting it to be tense and close in the football but a relatively easy win for the blue side in the politics. In the end it turned out to be pretty much the opposite, with the Reds smashing Atalanta in their own ground and Americans deciding that they want to push me to the very brink of my sanity. Both results, perhaps, are an example of how no one really knows anything and we’re all just hoping that things will work out in the long-run. I say no one really knows anything, but Jürgen Klopp is arguably the exception that proves the rule. The German has cemented his place in the list of best managers operating in the game right now, which he achieved by pulling off something that no other man in the Anfield hot-seat had achieved when he saw Jordan Henderson hoist the Premier League trophy over his head. It was a joy to be alive that day, my friends.

We’re also incredibly lucky that the other man who seems to know everything is Michael Edwards, Liverpool Football Club’s Sporting Director. The mild-mannered man in glasses had a hatchet job written about him in the wake of Brendan Rodgers’ sacking, yet he has gone on to prove his importance courtesy of the fact that the Reds have barely put a foot wrong in the transfer market since Jürgen Klopp arrived and the pair struck up a solid working relationship. His ability to spot the next player that Liverpool should sign was a big part of the reason why we were able to travel to Italy, face one of the most exciting teams in Europe and emerge with a 5-0 win. He obviously wasn’t on the pitch, but his influence could be seen all over it. The fact that we’ve been able to win our first three group games without conceding a goal at a time when we don’t have Virgil van Dijk to lead the backline is impressive, but it’s Jota’s influence that I’m most excited by.

He’s The Fourth Man We’ve Been Missing

Anyone who has read my work or who follows me on Twitter will know that I don’t think Divock Origi is the man for this Liverpool team. It’s not that I don’t think he’s a good goalscorer, it’s just that he seems better suited to a team like Aston Villa or Burnley than a Liverpool side that is all about speed; both in movement and thought. The signing of Diogo Jota went under the radar during the summer, coming as it did the day after the announcement of Thiago Alcantara’s arrival. Even those of us that were paying attention greeted his arrival with a shrug of the shoulders rather than an immediate desire to grab the champagne out of the fridge. The amazing thing is that we never seem to learn, having been equally uninspired by the arrivals of both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané. This was in spite of the fact that Jota’s underlying numbers looked eerily similar to what Mané’s looked like before he joined us from Southampton.

There’s an argument that Mané’s value has as good as tripled since we signed him, with Jota looking to be treading the same path. The key thing that the Portuguese striker does is give us a genuine option in the final third that we’ve been lacking during Jürgen Klopp’s time at the club. I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers us signing Steven Caulker as an emergency centre-back only to end up throwing him up front more than into our defensive setup, for example. Yes, Origi has provided us with countless moments that will live long in the memory, there will only be a few Liverpool supporters disappointed that they won’t get to watch him trundle aimlessly around the pitch as much any more. Whether Jota is on the bench and comes on to help change it up in attack or he starts and one of Salah, Mané or Roberto Firmino is on the bench, the difference is going to be huge. On top of that, Klopp knows how best to use his squad in a horses for courses manner.

His Flexibility Will Be Key

Perhaps the thing I’m most surprised about regarding Diogo Jota is just how good he is with both feet. This Liverpool attack is one that is at its most dangerous when it is constantly moving, evolving as matches go on and asking defences to figure out who is going to pop up where. It is that factor, as well as his ability to finish in an unnerving fashion, that will make him such a key addition to our front line moving forward. It is a big part of the reason why he will get so much time on the pitch this season, as long as he’s able to stay fit. His performances since signing had been impressive, but it was what he did against Atalanta that has a lot of Liverpool supporters purring. His hat-trick might have been against a notoriously dodgy defence, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive or noteworthy. It also gives the manager a genuine selection headache ahead of our trip to the Etihad and the Manchester City team that waits for us there.

It’s not as if Pep Guardiola’s defence is one of the shining examples of such a unit, despite the huge amount of money that he’s spent on it, so Jota will surely be licking his lips at the chance of going up against it. He’s also a man bang in form, so if the manager were to drop him and the Reds don’t win then questions will be asked. That being said, far too many people have been quick to write off Roberto Firmino when the Brazilian is still a crucial cog in Jürgen Klopp’s machine. As I say, though, whichever player starts it means that the other will be on the bench, barring any injury uncertainty, and I wonder if the manager might like to keep Jota in reserve because of how his dexterity offers the chance to change the front three almost entirely by making only one substitution. It’s a lovely situation for the manager to be in and if Jota continues the form he’s in he’ll soon be joining Mané, Salah and Firmino in the ‘world class’ bracket.

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