Diogo Jota completed a £45m move from Wolves to Liverpool on the 19th of September 2020. The 23-year-old Portuguese winger became Jurgen Klopp’s 24th signing at Liverpool and was one that went under the radar. It is a move which has Liverpool fans excited. It is the back-up they have been asking for to the prolific front three. He can cover all attacking positions, and with a bulk of Premier League experience and the better side of 23, is certainly one of the future. The scout report will analyse the key parts of Jotas game; what made Liverpool make a move and why he would be a good fit for the Champions.
The tactical analysis will take an in-depth look at Jota’s style of play. It will use analysis to highlight his inside runs at Wolves, akin to Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah. The scout report will scrutinise his pressing game, and how this is a perfect fit for Liverpool’s aggressive gegenpressing. The report will also cover his link-up with Raul Jimenez, and how this will work with Roberto Firmino. Finally, the tactical analysis will outline what to expect at Liverpool during his first season.
One thing that Liverpool would have actively been looking for from a back up to Mane and Salah is someone who makes similar runs in behind. Divock Origi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri usually deputise in the wide areas, and the drop off in quality is noticeable. For that reason, the aforementioned pair have played virtually every game for the last three seasons. Klopp did not trust the back-ups he possessed, but the arrival of Diogo Jota should change that.
The image above shows an example of the type of runs Diogo Jota makes from wide areas. He operates in the half-space between full-back and centre-back and looks to use his acceleration of the mark to break in behind. This is similar to Mane, who makes the same runs over and over again for Liverpool.
The statistics support this, and with analysis shows that Jota makes effective runs in behind. He averages 4.68 touches in the box per 90. This is one of the highest figures in the league. This indicates he is not a winger who hugs the touchline but is an inside forward, who makes movements towards the box. He also averages 3.9 progressive runs per 90. Again, this is an indicator that he gets in behind the backline, rather than staying out-wide like a ‘traditional’ winger.
All the above implies he will be a perfect fit in the tactics of Liverpool. Liverpool likes to play long diagonal balls from the back, especially Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk. The accuracy and volume at which these passes are played at suggest Jota will reap the rewards. He consistently can beat the offside trap and be at the end of these raking passes. As well as long passes, Jota will also benefit from the movements of Firmino. The Liverpool forward operates as a false 9. He drops deep and drags the centre-backs, leaving space for the inside forwards to exploit. The addition of Thiago Alcantara, as well as a more significant role for Naby Keita, suggests Liverpool’s forwards will have a fruitful season. Both players like to play progressive passes, and Jota (along with Mane and Salah) will benefit from this because of their smart movements.
One thing that Klopp demands from all his players, and particularly his forwards, is that they press the ball out of possession. Pepijn Lijnders, the Liverpool assistant manager, described Jota as a ‘pressing monster’. His ability and work-rate of the ball is another key reason why the Merseyside club paid the fee, and why he is an ideal back-up (and long-term replacement) for the Mane. As the image below shows, Jota is often in the right position to close the gap to the full-back. His positioning allows him to be able to cover a pass into the midfielder quickly, or out wide to the full-back. This intelligence off-ball is something Klopp admires and actively looks for in his forward to make his counter-pressing system effective.
Once again, the statistics support this and show Jota is an effective presser. He averages 1.78 recoveries in the final 3rd, one of the highest in the league. He, therefore, starts counter-attacks in dangerous areas of the pitch, a key part of Klopp’s tactics at Liverpool. He also averages 2.33 counter-pressing recoveries. This is higher than Liverpool’s chief counter-presser, Firmino. This shows that when Wolves lose the ball, he is aggressive in winning it back.
The tactical analysis has therefore highlighted that Jota will be a significant player both in the attack and in defence for Liverpool. His high pressing numbers will be a weapon at Anfield and suit the tactics that Liverpool deploy. The Reds actively look to win the ball back after losing it, and Jota is one of the best forwards in the league for this. This will allow Liverpool to keep the intensity in their pressing game from game to game, as he is more effective than all of Liverpool’s forwards in this. Currently, Klopp would have used Origi and Shaqiri as back-ups to the wingers. However, they do not possess the same off-the-ball quality as Mane and Salah. Therefore, when they play, there is a clear drop in Liverpool’s intensity. Jota’s arrival should mitigate this and allow Liverpool to remain aggressive to the final whistle, as well as in all four competitions.
Something that all of Liverpool’s front three have is good link-up play. Whether that be with each other or the midfield, Liverpool gets in behind using quick 1-2s to exploit space. It is a tactic that the wide players often use with Firmino. As the tactical analysis has stated, Firmino operates as a false 9. His link-up play is key to the way Liverpool attack, and something that Jota can benefit from. As the image below shows, Jota can get the ball into the striker’s feet, and his burst of pace allows him to receive the ball and drive at the backline.
The image above shows the direction of passes and frequency Jota plays them. As the data shows, Jota often plays balls inside into the forward and will either follow his pass or run in behind.
The analysis suggests once again that Jota would be a good fit for Liverpool’s attack. His passing inside, coupled with Firmino dropping deep to create space, will help Liverpool against low blocks. Firmino’s movement will drag players out of position and a quick interchange can put Jota in behind. As well as that, the analysis has shown that Jota likes to drive with the ball. By linking with Firmino in the central area, he can receive the ball on the move and drive directly at the back four, committing them to make a challenge, being able to get a shot on goal or play in Salah/TAA on the other side. .This further suggests that Jota will be the ideal back-up for Mane and eventual long-term replacement.
The tactical analysis has shown that Jota will be an excellent signing for Liverpool. In the short-term, he offers depth that they have been crying out for. His style is similar to Mane, so will allow Klopp to rest the Senegalese star without a massive drop in quality. He is also extremely versatile, and can easily cover either Firmino or Salah. His versatility will also allow Klopp to make changes to his tactics. Often, Klopp has gone to a 4231 over the last couple seasons but has lacked a true winger with Salah going up top, usually moving Naby Keita or Origi out wide. His arrival will allow Klopp to be tactically flexible, keeping their Premier League opponents guessing and allow Liverpool to continue to evolve.
Long-term, Jota seems the perfect replacement for Mane. At 23 years old, and without the pressure of having to perform immediately, Klopp has time to mould him in a similar way to all the other signings who have arrived at Anfield during the German’s tenure.
The scout report has highlighted Jotas strengths and how they will fit at Liverpool. His off the ball movement is similar to Mane and Salah and is more reflective of inside forward rather than a traditional winger. His defensive work-rate is outstanding and has already been highlighted by the Liverpool coaching staff. His link-up play will allow him to link with the focal point of Liverpool’s attack and help with creating space against low blocks. Ultimately, the signing will be another piece of fantastic business by Liverpool, and Jotas transition should be seamless.