Many of Liverpool’s supporters had been crying out for a forward player to be brought to Anfield to bolster the team’s attacking options. When the proposed transfer of RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner fell through due to differences in valuation, many fans felt like Liverpool had missed the trick, with the German ultimately ending up at Chelsea. Watford’s Ismaila Sarr was touted as a possible alternative, but again the club were reluctant to strike a deal given the Hornets’ high asking price.
In the end it’s Diogo Jota who has joined the Reds from Wolves in a deal which could potentially rise to a reported £45m. The Portuguese forward is exactly the kind of player to slot neatly into Jürgen Klopp’s system, with pressing one of his greatest attributes. The 23-year-old is a hard worker, energetic both on and off the ball, and possesses a goal threat too – aspects which will all contribute greatly to Liverpool’s defence of the title.
There has been a growing concern that Liverpool’s front three of Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are in danger of growing stale in their performances, or that other teams will figure out the best way to defend against them and thus render them less effective. The arrival of Jota by no means suggests that one of the front three will be dropped, but it will be an important reminder that other quality players are waiting in the wings should one of them let their standards slip.
Indeed, both Salah and Mané have started the season in exquisite form, with the former scoring a hat-trick on the opening day against Leeds United, and the latter bagging two vital goals to help Liverpool defeat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Despite concerns that they may be passing their peak, the Reds’ star attackers seem sharper than ever. You only need to look at the odds on any bet exchange to see that one of Mané or Salah is so often the player tipped to open the scoring.
It could prove that the arrival of a player like Jota, who has experience of playing and scoring goals in the Premier League, could well spur Liverpool’s front three on to perform to even higher standards. While Divock Origi has been a loyal backup option for Liverpool’s attack, it has always felt as though his presence in the squad has threatened Firmino, Salah or Mané. Even subconsciously, the level those three perform at each week can breed a sort of complacency, but having Jota around as a new player eager to make a big impact should provide them with even greater motivation to score goals and make assists.
Klopp may well view Jota as an eventual successor to one of those aforementioned forwards. After all, they can’t keep up their scoring figures forever, and the plan might be for Jota to be hitting his peak just as one of Salah or Mané is starting to regress. Klopp is contracted to Liverpool until 2024, and at some stage there will need to be a rebuilding project as the players who brought him so much success are gradually phased out.
Perhaps the reason Liverpool plumped for Jota in the end is that he is a player of immense ambition. This is evident on the pitch as he chases down lost causes, hunts defenders to try and win possession high up the pitch, and gives every iota to bring his team closer to victory. They are qualities Wolves supporters will miss greatly, but those very qualities might just help Liverpool maintain their remarkable standard of domestic performance for a third successive season.