It has been a dream start for Diogo Jota at Liverpool with the Portuguese attacker emerging as one of the most in-form players in Europe. When the signing was announced, it was seen as one to strengthen the squad, but he is now one of the first names on the team-sheet. Although there has been disappointment caused by defensive injuries, results have continued to be impressive and their summer signing has been central to their early success. There is no doubt that the former Wolves player will remain in the team when Mohamed Salah returns from illness.
The performance from Jota at the weekend was excellent, as he showed how quickly he has adapted to his new surroundings. His movement in attack caused Leicester City a lot of problems. He ended the game with five shots, three of which were on target. The directness caught the eye, but he offered more than that in the game. Jota completed three dribbles and made three key passes. It was a big game for Liverpool against the team that went into the international break as the league leaders. Their 23-year-old attacker passed the test and showed his quality against the Foxes.
Liverpool supporters can already see that their recruitment team have pulled off another quality signing. Jota wasn’t a secret, as he was performing to a high standard in the Premier League and Europa League for Wolves. However, he looks to be a perfect fit for the system at Anfield and he is already taking his game to a new level. In his limited minutes to date, he has seven goals and two assists in all competitions for his new club.
His impressive start to life on Merseyside can be shown by his underlying metrics and how they rank with others in the division. There is a small sample size of just 394 Premier League minutes, therefore the following needs to be caveated with that.
Jota is currently averaging 4.10 shots per ninety minutes. Only Rodrigo (4.47) has averaged more than the Liverpool attacker. To compare with others in his own team, Salah (3.63) and Sadio Mane (3.44) are averaging less, albeit they have a greater sample size of minutes.
According to Understat, Jota is averaging 0.58 xG (expected goals) and 0.32 xA (expected assists) per ninety minutes. These are excellent numbers and show the different threats that the Portuguese international poses for opposition sides. In addition to his direct goal threat, he can create for his team-mates too. He has yet to register a Premier League assist for Liverpool, but the underlying numbers suggest it isn’t far away.
Mohamed Salah (0.74 xG and 0.25 xA) has better numbers, but Sadio Mane (0.58 xG and 0.17 xA) and Roberto Firmino (0.52 xG and 0.14 xA) rank lower than their new attacking team-mate in these numbers. By signing Jota, Jurgen Klopp has given himself a quality attacking player to challenge his long-established front three. However, it also provides a tactical flexibility that he previously didn’t have.
Prior to the international break, the German started with all four of his attackers in the Premier League against Manchester City. It looks to be a formation that he will use a lot this season, but he also has the chance to rotate in attack without losing any quality. In a season like this one, it will be important that he does rest the likes of Salah and Mane on occasion.
At the age of 23, Jota looks to be a player that can go to the very top of the game. During his time with Wolves, he looked like an effective Premier League player. However, he is now showing that he can be much more than that. This is another excellent bit of recruitment by Liverpool and it suggests that they will be at the top of the European game for some time yet.