Diogo Jota is on the same level as Liverpool’s famous front three, claims assistant manager Pep Lijnders – who admits the summer signing has one positive attribute he finds “really difficult to coach”.
Jota made a bright start to life as a Liverpool player after joining from Wolves in the summer. He scored in his first Premier League appearance for his new club – and that was just the beginning.
The Portugal international scored in four games in a row between late October and early November. That spell culminated with a hat-trick in the Champions League against Atalanta.
While Roberto Firmino in particular was struggling for goals, Jota was putting serious pressure on a front three many thought was unbreakable.
However, his chances of establishing himself further took a hit when he suffered an injury in December. But after three months out, he is now back in action.
Jota recently got his first goal since returning from injury, scoring against former employers Wolves. He will be hoping to kick on again after the international break.
In the meantime, he has received a glowing endorsement from Liverpool coach Lijnders, who does not hide the fact that the 24-year-old can give Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane a run for their money.
“Jota is on the same technical level as our front three – I said this before and the whole world can see it,” Lijnders told Liverpool’s official website.
“Quick and being quick in mind is a lethal combination for a striker. He has ‘direction’ in his game.
“Diogo understands that it’s not about him, it’s about him, Sadio, Bobby, Mo, it’s about togetherness. It’s about Divock, Shaq, Ox, how they can all relate and help each other.
“Adapting to our pressing style isn’t easy but with him it goes very naturally.
“It says a lot how quick he adapted to the team and how quick the team adapted to him. It’s just pure quality as a team player and as a person.
“He has this positioning in the box where he is often on the right spot in the right time. This intuition in the box, this pure instinct, that is something that is so difficult to coach. I still find it really difficult to coach that attribute.”
Jota thinks Liverpool getting back on track
Liverpool struggled significantly in Jota’s absence and their title defence is now all but over. They even face a battle to secure a place in the top four.
However, the return of the former Porto star provides some optimism – especially after he got back on the scoresheet.
After netting against Wolves, Jota shared his belief that Liverpool are getting back to the levels they need to be at.
“We hope so,” he told Liverpool’s website when asked if they are back on track.
“Of course we work for that and now with two clean sheets and two victories it’s really good and now we have the break for the international teams but it’s football.
“We needed to win. That was the most important thing and to grab points because we have been struggling in the Premier League and we want to change that.
“I think we need to improve a lot, in this competition especially, and hopefully this could be a great start of a run until the end of the season.”