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Liverpool signed ‘pressing monster’ in shock transfer deal after years of planning

Diogo Jota completed a surprise £45m transfer from Wolverhampton Wanderers to Liverpool two years ago today.

 

What better way for Liverpool to address their issue of conceding the first goal than the return of the man who more often than not scores it?

 

The availability of Diogo Jota after almost two months out with a hamstring problem has provided a much-needed boost after a testing start to the season for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

 

And it was no surprise to see the Portuguese heavily involved on his first start of the campaign at home to Ajax in the Champions League last Tuesday, laying on the opening goal for Mohamed Salah in a welcome 2-1 triumph.

Such has been the encouraging trait from Jota since stepping in at Anfield two years ago today, swiftly acquiring a reputation as a ‘gamebreaker’ given his propensity of scoring – or at the very least assisting – the opening goal of a match.

 

Jota’s arrival from Wolverhampton Wanderers in a £45million deal – barely 24 hours after Thiago Alcantara was snapped up from Bayern Munich – caused mild reverberations among the fanbase with the player having only been seriously linked with Liverpool the previous day.

 

“His technical level is on the same as our front three,” said Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders. “He has so much future in the game and he will have a great pathway inside our club. He’s like a pressing monster, so he will fit in straight away.

 

“We played against each other when he was very young. In Portugal, they all say what a great signing Liverpool made, because they know exactly how he is and what kind of potential he still has.

 

“He will fit into our style. We are happy with him, and all the things we heard are true. He is a very professional, passionate, dedicated, brave player.”

While taking on the challenge of breaking up the triumvirate of Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino was too onerous for some, Jota grabbed the opportunity. And that he followed in the mould of Salah and Mane in having already acquired Premier League experience allowed him to hit the ground running, the forward scoring nine minutes into his top-flight debut for the Reds after coming on towards the end of the 3-1 home win over Arsenal.

 

Within two months, Jota had netted nine times including a hat-trick in the 5-0 Champions League win at Atalanta, only the third Liverpool player – after Michael Owen and Mane – to score an away treble for the club in Europe.

 

The second half of his season was hampered by a knee problem that ruled him out for almost three months, while a foot injury having scored in a 4-2 win at Manchester United meant he played only a minute of the decisive final three matches as Liverpool somehow nabbed third place and Champions League qualification.

 

 

Coronavirus restrictions ensured it wasn’t until the first home game of the following season against Burnley that Jota played a competitive game for Liverpool in front of a packed Anfield. He scored the opener that day, as he had done the previous week at Norwich City.

 

Having been employed across the front three in his debut season, Jota usurped Roberto Firmino as the first-choice centre forward and ended the last campaign with 21 goals – 14 the opener in a match – but he failed to start any of the three cup finals, with options on the left limited in January by the impact of new signing Luis Diaz as the central position was locked down by an in-form Mane.

 

Indeed, Jota hasn’t scored in his last 16 appearances for Liverpool since the 2-2 Premier League draw at Manchester City back in April. And while Mane has gone, potential club record signing Darwin Nunez and revitalised Roberto Firmino offer different challenges to the main striking role.

 

 

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