Diogo Jota has undoubtedly been one of Liverpool’s best players in this incredibly challenging of seasons.
The 24-year-old joined the club from Wolverhampton Wanderers for £45 million last summer, and while some fans and pundits thought the fee was too high, he hit the ground running immediately.
Jota has so far scored 12 goals for the Reds, and he also assisted one for Mohamed Salah in the Champions League against RB Leipzig.
On a pro-rata basis, only Salah has netted or set up a goal more frequently for Liverpool this season. Disregard the Egyptian’s seven penalties for the sake of argument, and Jota would be leading the way.
Yet he could have contributed far more were it not for the 18-match injury lay off he had to endure after hurting his knee in a Champions League dead rubber with Midtjylland.
Jota has been speaking to FourFourTwo magazine about his career and his hopes for Euro 2020, and he also gave an insight into how he suffered during his recent spell on the side-lines.
“I was out for almost three months – it was the longest I’ve been injured in my professional career, and possibly at the worst time because things were going well for me,” he said.
“I just wanted to keep doing what I was doing, but I couldn’t help the team. Then the results we were getting weren’t the best, which only increased my frustration. When I came back, I focused on what I could do to improve the situation.”
It didn’t take him long to start contributing again. He recently netted a brace in a 3-0 win at Arsenal – opening the scoring just three minutes after coming off the bench – and he had earlier bagged the winner in his third start back from injury.
That match just so happened to be against his former club Wolves. While he admitted his move to the West Midlands was a gamble, as they were in the Championship at the time, Jota has since proved that it was the right decision as it enabled him to work his way up to Liverpool.
After all, he was with Atletico Madrid prior to joining Wolves, yet never made an appearance for them in the two years he was contracted to the club.
“Sometimes you need to take a step back to take two steps forward,” he said. “In the end, things went well and it proved to be the right decision, even if it sounded a bit risky back then.”
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Jota also had to persuade his family that the move to join Nuno Espirito Santo’s side in the second tier of English football was the right decision, and he revealed that he himself needed a little encouragement at the time too.
“I had an uncle who asked me why I was doing it, but he agrees with me now! I must admit that even I wasn’t totally sold on the idea when I initially heard about it from my agent, Jorge Mendes.
“He eventually convinced me, and now he says, ‘See how I was right all along?!’”
He certainly was, but Kopites everywhere will be hoping that Mendes isn’t encouraging Jota to make any further career moves any time soon.