Liverpool assistant manager Pep Ljinders has described Diogo Jota as “frightening” as the forward prepares to show his first season at Anfield was no fluke.
Jota joined Liverpool from fellow Premier League side Wolves last summer and made a stunning impact. It was previously thought that nobody could break up the front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, but Jota put pressure on them with his excellent goalscoring form.
In total, he scored 13 goals from 30 appearances in all competitions, including a Champions League hat-trick against Atalanta. He also became the first ever player to score in their first four Premier League home appearances for Liverpool.
With the futures of all of Liverpool’s main front three in doubt – although talks will soon begin to tie some of them down – Jota is ready to prove himself again this season after missing the end of the previous campaign through injury.
After some extended time off following his exertions with Portugal at Euro 2020, Jota has returned to pre-season training with Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s right-hand man Ljinders has been impressed with the manner in which the forward has returned.
He told the club’s official website: “It’s great Diogo has joined us because you see immediately the speed he has and, at the same time, so much control over his body and the ball. It’s frightening.
“He gives our front line a lot of direction and energy.
“Diogo is not a typical Portuguese winger who receives the ball in his feet and creates dis-organisation with dribbles from outside. Diogo is vertical, a second striker in the box, a pure Liverpool winger.
“He smells the goal, is technically on high level. Especially with our passing game we need Diogo’s movements in behind the last line. He defends on a high level.”
Jota played around half an hour of Liverpool’s 4-3 friendly defeat to Hertha Berlin on Thursday, his first minutes of pre-season.
Jota looks ahead to new season
Asked if he prefers one of the three forward positions up front in Klopp’s team, Jota told Liverpool’s official website: “No, not really. I always answer this question [with] I like to be on the field, no matter which position.
“But, of course, I feel like being able to play in different roles gives you an extra advantage because managers can choose you for one thing or another.
“It’s good for a player to have that ability – and that’s one thing I’m looking to improve on as well.”
He also hinted he is aiming to improve his goal tally next season.
“Obviously if you’re going to say to me in the beginning 13 goals, maybe I would agree.
“But after that beginning maybe you expect some more. It’s football and you never know what’s going to happen next.
“Now it’s a new season and a new start. I’m ready and the team will be ready for that as well.”