Diogo Jota‘s No. 1 fan may be Liverpool assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders, who has praised the “frightening” blend of attacking prowess he has brought on his return.
Prior to Jota’s £45 million move to Anfield from Wolves, Jurgen Klopp sought the opinion of his assistant Lijnders, who was familiar with the winger from his time in Portugal.
Since his switch to Liverpool, Jota has been lavished with praise by the Dutchman on a variety of occasions, with it seeming that his biggest advocate is the manager’s right-hand man.
After a short break following his time at Euro 2020, the 24-year-old returned to the Reds squad for pre-season and made his first appearance of the summer against Hertha Berlin.
Jota was on the pitch for just under half an hour, but he impressed Lijnders again with his “frightening” quality.
“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,” he told the club’s official website.
“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 a high level. Especially with our passing game we need Diogo’s movements in behind the last line. He defends on a high level.”
It’s clear that Liverpool see Jota as the full package in the final third, with his transition to life with the Reds aided by a blistering start that saw him score 13 times in his first season.
At just 24, the Portuguese is considerably younger than the rest of Klopp’s first-choice forwards, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all 29, and is therefore hugely important for both present and future.
Lijnders has been tipped as a potential successor to Klopp once the manager leaves the club – which could be as early as 2024 – and if that is the case he could look to build around Jota.
And with Firmino only just set to return for pre-season training next week, it could be that Liverpool’s No. 20 takes up the starting role up front for the Premier League opener at Norwich on August 14.
While there is a clamour for another attacking option to be added to Klopp’s squad in the summer transfer window, it can be overlooked how devastating a forward Jota can be.
It could be an even bigger campaign ahead for Lijnders’ favourite player.