EPL

Liverpool sign Jota: Champions look to the future – Assessing £45m recruit in Opta data

By Sports Desk September 20, 2020

Diogo Jota's arrival at Liverpool gives the Premier League champions some added depth as they turn an eye to the future.

The forward's move from Wolves for a reported £45million was confirmed on Saturday as Jurgen Klopp continued to strengthen his squad.

But with one of the world's best attacks in Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino already in place, just where does 23-year-old Jota fit?

With thanks to Opta data, we take a look at Jota, Liverpool's front three and what the future could hold.

 

A back-up upgrade … for now

There is no doubt Jota will need to bide his time behind Salah, Mane and Firmino.

Salah and Mane scored 37 goals between them in the Premier League last season, with Jota's return at least more comparable to that of Firmino.

Jota scored a goal every 328.1 minutes for a haul of seven, a better return than Firmino (333.4), while converting big chances at a superior rate (33.3 to 23.1) as well.

But the Brazilian's selfless approach is often lauded and he provided his playmaking credentials during Liverpool's title-winning season. Firmino created 10 big chances and had eight assists, with Jota finishing with three and one respectively.

While his goal and assist output may not compare, unsurprisingly, what Liverpool are getting is a player who is willing to take their man on. Jota attempted the fifth most dribbles in the Premier League last season with 151, although his success rate was just 43.7.

It gives Klopp a talent to be nurtured, and some much-needed depth in attack with Divock Origi and Rhian Brewster linked with moves and Takumi Minamino still unproven after his January arrival from RB Salzburg. It may also provide the Liverpool manager with another option in midfield if needed.

An eye to the future

At 23 and having signed a reported five-year deal, Jota looks to be a player of the future for Liverpool. With Salah and Mane both 28 and linked with LaLiga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, one could move on in the near future.

Unlike Salah, who arrived from Roma in 2017, Mane caught the eye in the Premier League prior to his switch from Southampton.

Mane turned 23 during the 2014-15 campaign – his first in England and the first of his two at Southampton. He has gone on to become one of the world's best players, but how does Jota compare to that Mane season, at the same age?

Unsurprisingly, he is behind, but not by much. Mane finished that season with 10 league goals, one every 213.5 minutes, and had a better big chance conversion (40 to 33.3). But he created just four big chances to Jota's three and ended up with three assists (Jota had one in 2019-20), suggesting there is plenty for Liverpool to work with. Even Mane dribbled less (110 attempts), but he went at a success rate of 53.7. Southampton finished seventh that season, while Wolves ended up in the same spot in 2019-20. If Jota can get close to Mane's level in years to come, Liverpool will be pleased with their investment.

What about Sarr?

As recently as Friday, Liverpool had been linked with a move for Watford attacker Ismaila Sarr and the Championship club reportedly wanted at least £40m, a similar price the Reds are apparently paying for Jota. However, the payment structures for the two differed and led to Liverpool landing the Portugal international over Sarr.

The 22-year-old Sarr enjoyed a fine season, particularly considering Watford were relegated from the top flight.

He was directly involved in more goals (five goals and four assists) than Jota and in fewer minutes, and converted his limited big chances at a better rate (40) while creating three times more. Sarr had a similar dribble success rate (45.2) but attempted far fewer (104) in his first season in the Premier League. There was little between the two in 2019-20, but Sarr's numbers were impressive in a struggling side and he helped end Liverpool's ‘Invincibles' bid with a brace against the Reds in February.

Liverpool were getting a fine talent either way and Jota shapes up as an exciting long-term prospect at Anfield.

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