Ian Graham and his ‘research team’ can’t believe they signed €52m forward for Liverpool without competition

Liverpool can’t believe they had a free run at Diogo Jota last summer, writes the Independent’s Melissa Reddy, as his early-season form underlines what a good deal the Reds got.

The Portugal international has scored in each of his Premier League starts so far this season and he’ll be hoping to make it a hattrick against Chelsea on Saturday.

His good form is nothing new to Liverpool fans but after he missed 19 games with a knee injury last season, it’s a reminder to the Premier League of just how good the 24-year-old is.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Burnley at Anfield on August 21, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – AUGUST 21: Liverpool’s Diogo Jota celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Burnley at Anfield on August 21, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

If he can maintain his fitness and form, he’ll be worth close to double the £45m (€52m) that Liverpool agreed to pay Wolves to sign him last summer.

As Melissa Reddy writes, the club’s “research department, housing the esteemed Ian Graham and his team of six industry-leading data science brainiacs”, can’t believe their luck.

Given how good Jota is – they are “bemused” at how they were able to sign him unchallenged and Reddy says that they joke his “shot maps should be hanging up in a museum.”

She writes: “Jota has scored 15 goals for the Merseysiders in 32 appearances. His successful efforts have been so varied, eight of them materialising from his right foot, three with the other and four via his head.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: (THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT ) Diogo Jota of Liverpool scores the first goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Burnley at Anfield on August 21, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – AUGUST 21: (THE SUN OUT,THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT ) Diogo Jota of Liverpool scores the first goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Burnley at Anfield on August 21, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Standing next to Ben Mee, you’d hardly suggest before kickoff that Jota would be likely to score a header and yet his combination of clever movement and pinpoint heading accuracy allowed him to open the scoring at Anfield on Saturday.

He used to play as a left-wing for Wolves but he’s quickly turning into a ruthless centre-forward for Liverpool and while supporters like myself have been crying out for Jurgen Klopp to sign one all summer, perhaps we have been too quick to disregard Jota’s prolificacy as an option.

Many of us have seen him as a cover for Mane rather than a starter but his form in the opening two games has shown that he is ready to lead the line for Liverpool.

Of course, Roberto Firmino will have his say and with big games on the horizon for Liverpool, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Klopp turn back to his tried and tested front three of Mane, Firmino and Mo Salah.

Michael Mongie
Football Central Media Group founder, owner and editor.

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