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Old 07-11-20, 08:32 AM   #241
BobTheCharmer
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Does he start or come off the bench vs City?

No way will city defend like atalanta. He's red hot so I'd start him and see if he can continue his run.
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Old 07-11-20, 09:09 AM   #242
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Absolutely start him. We need to occupy their defence as much as possible and force them on to their back foot..
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Old 07-11-20, 10:00 AM   #243
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We spent the spring of this year getting excited about articles linking us to Havertz, Sancho, Werner, then becoming disappointed. Only for Edwards to pick up a player who was not even in anyone's top 5 list even though he was a premier league player. And he is now playing like a Balon D'or candidate .

It is going to repeat itself with the central defender also, isn't it? We are going to be linked with Upamecano, Pau Torres, all sexy European defenders. Edwards is going to buy someone like Ben Mee for 11 million and he is going to suddenly look like Baresi in our setup .
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Old 07-11-20, 12:21 PM   #244
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Originally Posted by BobTheCharmer View Post
Does he start or come off the bench vs City?

No way will city defend like atalanta. He's red hot so I'd start him and see if he can continue his run.
I think we'll start with Bobby. But it won't take long to throw Jota on.
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Old 07-11-20, 12:40 PM   #245
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Anyone with access to this able to post the article?

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Old 13-11-20, 08:43 PM   #246
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Yes you guessed right why this thread has also been bumped. Just read on rawk that we may be getting Mo Covid, Mo problems news on him too.

Edit: nothing found online so far. I've also watsapped a Portuguese friend to check in his language, he can't see anything online either thank God. Sorry, as you were.
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Old 13-11-20, 11:52 PM   #247
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Yes you guessed right why this thread has also been bumped. Just read on rawk that we may be getting Mo Covid, Mo problems news on him too.

Edit: nothing found online so far. I've also watsapped a Portuguese friend to check in his language, he can't see anything online either thank God. Sorry, as you were.
Ffs, what you playing at?
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Old 19-11-20, 04:36 PM   #248
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Long, even by their standards. Some interesting bits amongst a lot of filler

Other contributors: Dermot Corrigan, Tim Spiers and Adam Crafton

Speak to those whose lives have crossed with Diogo Jota’s, particularly in Portugal, and they tend to agree that he has the mindset of an underdog. His belief in himself is almost unshakable but that does not mean he thinks he belongs at the top of his profession.

“Diogo has some insecurities but they push him further than players with more talent, not that there are many — certainly here in Porto,” an old friend told The Athletic this week.

His faith along with his ability has taken him on an unusual path from one of the smallest top-flight clubs in his homeland, to a curious rejection at Atletico Madrid, to the champions of England in the space of four years.

“Nobody does what Jota is doing now without having real ambition,” says Jorge Simao, who was one of his first-team coaches at Pacos de Ferreira. “When he signed for Porto (on loan in 2016), I told a Portuguese website that, for me, Jota would be the successor to Cristiano Ronaldo. Obviously, that was quite a big claim to make at that time, because Jota had only played for Pacos and had not had a good time at Atletico Madrid.

“When Jota signed for Liverpool, I sent him a message to congratulate him. He replied, five seconds later, with a link to that old article about him and Ronaldo. It was the very first thing he sent! He must have had it bookmarked. Incredible! He hadn’t forgotten.”

Jota has scintillated in his early days at Liverpool, a club where the story of Steven Gerrard, arguably their greatest ever player, features suffering and success because of experience with similarly conflicting forces. Gerrard carried with him the sting of rejection and turned it into a positive. He did not accept it whenever he was told he could not do something, nor when he formed the impression that someone else doubted him. Gerrard’s fire was the desperation to prove people wrong.

When a Liverpool youth team faced Tottenham Hotspur’s a few years after he was turned down for a scholarship at Lilleshall, his memory did not betray him. Some of the Spurs players had been selected in his place and had since represented England. Gerrard proceeded to leave his mark; crashing into tackles and almost single-handedly winning the game with a statement performance that was so impressive, it made other Liverpool players doubt their own abilities.

In Jota’s case, he was overlooked by his hometown club Porto and joined neighbours Pacos as a teenager. Considering the success rate of Porto’s youth sector, it seems astonishing that a natural gravitational pull did not beam in a future full international who grew up less than five miles away from their stadium. Though he represented Porto’s first team at a later date via Pacos and Atletico, that earlier oversight, rather than diminish his appetite, made him hungrier to become a professional.

Though he was not knocked back from anywhere in particular, Jota did not grow up with lots of people telling him how talented he was. Nor from an early age did he have agents knocking on the door, presenting visions of a more guaranteed way of life. By the time he was playing regularly for Pacos, he was single-minded and had developed a sense of fearlessness. Married with his talent, this meant he relished the challenge of attempting to surprise some of the biggest institutions in the country.

One of his team-mates at Pacos was a midfielder named Pele. He was 24 when he played with Jota and had seen enough in his own career to understand what impresses more-experienced footballers the most, having already moved from Genoa to AC Milan and then to Benfica.

Jota had recently turned 19 when Pacos went to the capital just after Christmas 2015 for a League Cup game against Sporting Lisbon. It is fair to say they were not expected to get a positive result. Sporting were flying in the league — they eventually finished second, two points behind champions Benfica — and the match was being played in front of an expectant Jose Alvalade Stadium.

“He (Jota) had a really strong mentality for his age,” Pele tells The Athletic. “I remember playing at the Alvalade and being in the dressing room at half-time, with the score 1-1. He walked in and asked the rest of the team, ‘Guys, do you not want to win this game?’ Me and Bruno Moreira (a 28-year-old centre-forward) looked at each other, then at him. We asked him why he was asking. He said, ‘Because you need to give me the ball more!’ I looked at him and thought to myself, ‘Nineteen years old and he’s got that mentality already? Incredible…’”

Jota had started only 21 top-flight matches before that trip to Lisbon, but he was already confident enough to be demanding of more senior figures around him. By the end of a season where Pacos narrowly missed out on qualifying for Europe for only the fourth time in their history, Jota had scored 12 league goals — one of them a late winner in a 1-0 victory over Porto.

Despite being a first-team player, he continued to live in the club’s halls of residence with the academy kids. Pele “thought that was hilarious” considering he already had a girlfriend, Rute Cardoso, and this made him wonder what he did “when he wanted some alone time with her…”

It must have been tempting for him to make the 30-minute drive back to Porto and celebrate with his family after scoring decisively against his hometown club but instead he apparently decided to return to his shared dormitory to play FIFA on the PlayStation with boys he had already left behind professionally.

Pele describes him as “chilled” away from the training ground, “always on the PlayStation”. Yet as a player, “he was really determined… he knew what he wanted from his career. He helped us a lot with his goals, but also with his overall game, which was so useful for the team.”

Where did he believe Jota would end up?

“I remember thinking that this was a player who was going right to the very top level of world football.”

The A20 motorway sweeps around the northern outskirts of Porto and this makes it the quickest way to reach Gondomar, in the south east of the city, from Massarelos in the west — the quiet barrio where Jota grew up, which snuggles beside the Douro river and overlooks the distilleries that make the region’s most famous liquor.

This journey involves driving right past the east stand of Porto’s Estadio Dragao ground. Though the venue seemed tantalisingly close, Jota’s reality was in the junior section of a club, Gondomar, that has never made it higher than the Portuguese second tier. He always trained on a synthetic pitch and told anyone who asked him that his hero as a child was Benfica’s Pablo Aimar. Youth coach Ruben Carvalho told the A Bola newspaper: “He loved training. He worked hard, always at his limit.”

To distinguish himself from other Diogos as a child he would have “Diogo J” on his shirt, as he does now at Liverpool, because his full name is Diogo Jose Teixeira da Silva. The letter J in Portuguese is “jota”, which became his nickname and he is now known in the game as Diogo Jota.

He had turned 17 in his final year at Gondomar. This was a season where he scored 39 goals in 37 games, making him the top scorer for his age in the national championship. Sometimes, he played for the under-17s on a Saturday and the under-19s on a Sunday. Across the same weekend, he scored successive hat-tricks and according to the club’s president Alvaro Cerqueira, “it was the same goalkeeper in both games.”


Jota (front row, centre) at Gondomar (Photo: A Bola TV)
This story was confirmed by coach Jose Carlos Magalhaes, who told newspaper Diario de Noticias: “It was against Candal. He even started the second game on the bench, because he was tired. He came on in the second half and scored three goals.”

Though Gondomar are naming their academy after him, he decided to leave for Pacos because he was disappointed that he was never given a chance with the senior side. “I wasn’t even called up to train with them,” he explained in an interview with website Vivacidade in November 2015. “I think I deserved that reward.”

Though he had trained a few times with Sporting Braga, further north, during his time at Gondomar, no offer was forthcoming there either. Benfica and Porto were supposedly sniffing around as well but again, nothing. His biggest fan was Gilberto Andrade, the youth coordinator at Pacos, who described him not only as “an innate talent” but a “wild horse”.

Andrade convinced the club’s president to sign him, and his cause was helped when Jota played well against Pacos for Gondomar. Jota told Vivacidade: “I thought it was the right time to make the step up to a bigger club. I was always an ambitious player and was hoping for the chance to play for a top-flight team. I jumped at the opportunity.”

He did not find it easy at the beginning, and Pacos considered releasing him. Andrade reasoned: “He was used to being the star of the team, and training with less intensity so he could play for two different teams at the weekend. He found a more competitive environment and took a while to adapt.”

On his debut for the first team in the Portuguese Cup, he created history by becoming the club’s youngest scorer in a game where he also set up two more goals. Across all competitions in his first season as a professional, there were four goals in 12 appearances. This led to him agreeing a four-year contract, which was an unprecedented move by a club who rarely hand out deals for longer than two seasons.

Jota was searingly honest at that point about how he saw the future. “I have a contract until 2019 but I would be lying if I said I planned to see it out,” he admitted. “I think this (2015-16) could be a season that pushes me to new heights.”

His position in the team was changing. “I started as a left midfielder, or on the left of a central midfield three. But I was always a midfielder who arrived in the box. At Pacos, I played as a striker. But I prefer to play as a false nine, or behind another forward.”

Under future Shakhtar Donetsk and Roma coach Paulo Fonseca in 2014-15, Jota played as a second striker. But when Simao took over, he moved to a wider area of the pitch. “Do I feel like a winger?” Jota asked himself in another interview. “I know I am one on paper, but it’s different out on the pitch. I like to move into the middle and get more involved in the game. I’m a special kind of winger, let’s put it that way…”

Simao, who has since been in charge of bigger Portuguese clubs including Braga and Boavista, having also taken in spells at clubs in Saudi Arabia and Belgium, tells The Athletic he knew little about Jota when he became Pacos manager in the summer of 2015, but the player caught his attention in early pre-season.

“In one of the first training matches, he did something that made me think, ‘Did I really see that? Did that actually just happen?’ He received the ball outside the penalty area, back to goal,” he says. “He flicked it over the defender’s shoulder with his first touch, spun around the other side of him, then hit a powerful shot before the ball hit the ground. It flew right into the top corner. Can you imagine the impression that made on me? An 18-year-old doing something like that? It was just incredible. A goal of that quality… it was not normal. I thought, ‘Wow, this kid has got real potential’.”

Simao wanted to use another youngster in a central attacking area instead of Jota, and this decision was made easier because of the latter’s versatility and willingness to help the team.

“Andrezinho (who was 16 months older than Jota) was very technically gifted and was brilliant at making the final pass, so I wanted to play him as a No 10. That meant moving Jota to the left wing,” he says. “But I looked at Jota and saw a player with this amazing ability to run at a defence with the ball at his feet, then get a shot off. I thought he was perfect for that position. It was just a matter of setting the team up, so he could play to his strengths. We wanted him to receive the ball in space, out wide, and drive inside.”

Simao’s only doubts related to whether Jota could perform consistently for a club who had low expectations and could get sucked into a relegation battle if they were not careful.

“But he never left the side and produced a staggeringly good season,” Simao remembers. “He dazzled the whole of Portugal. Over the course of the campaign, he proved himself. His technical quality was there for all to see, but lots of players have that. The difference was his competitive spirit. He always wanted to improve.”

Having been asked to play on the left of Simao’s attack, Jota worked independently on what he saw as the weakest parts of his game.

“I remember looking at him in a number of training sessions during that season and noting to myself that he was only using his left foot,” he says. “Without being asked to. Why? We never talked about it, but I believe it was because he understood that it was one of the areas he had to work on. He wanted to be able to cross better, shoot better, dribble better with his weaker foot. It was about personal development: he did it for himself.”


(Photo: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)
Simao disagrees with a previous description of Jota from his time at Gondomar. “He’s the opposite of wild; he’s very rigorous in his duties on the pitch,” Simao laughs. “He’s a really disciplined boy. He’s not anarchic in his movement. He was never one of those players who runs everywhere in search of the ball. You’d tell Jota what you wanted him to do and it was, ‘Bam, bam, bam.’ He would do it, and he would do it well. That made him really easy to manage. He’s a thoroughbred.”

One of Jota’s attacking partners was centre-forward Moreira.

“From the very first training session with the squad, Diogo showed that he was different to other players of his age,” Moreira says. “He had real personality as well as technical skill and physical qualities. We felt that he was a star in the making — that it was just a matter of time before he would break into the first team.

“He started by shining in training and then made sure he grasped every small opportunity that he was given. Everyone believed in him, and it was that confidence — as well as his ability — that helped him produce such a great season when he won his place in the side.”

“Diogo made my life easy up front,” Moreira continues. “He’s a very direct, vertical player. He always has his eyes on the goal during every move. We had a spectacular partnership: we knew each other’s qualities and we could predict each other’s movements.”

While Simao could see that Jota was attempting to improve his left foot, Moreira thinks his team-mate was so committed towards self-improvement that he made it seem “like he was always very two-footed… a natural talent.” He believes Jota was able to improve and forge a career in the game without joining any of Portugal’s biggest clubs from a very early age because of three characteristics: “mental strength, talent and a willingness to do the work. Look at the level he has reached now; that’s the evidence. He’s going to leave his mark at Liverpool and on the global stage.”

Simao had moved on to coach another Portuguese top-flight side, Chaves, by the time Jota finally signed for Porto on loan from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2016 but from afar, it did not seem to him that the club placed their entire faith in him.

“He didn’t come through the academy. He didn’t have a big reputation. He came right from the bottom. He played for small clubs and had to fight to make his name. I think that helps to explain his mentality. He’s so, so competitive.

“People often ask me whether I’m surprised at the football he’s producing. But I’m not surprised at all, because he’s doing the same things he always did. It’s just that he’s doing it on a much bigger stage now. He plays in the same way for Liverpool that he did for Gondomar. Whether it’s the Estadio da Luz, with 70,000 fans, or an amateur game in front of a handful of people, it’s all the same to him.”

Jota was still a teenager when he signed for Atletico Madrid in July 2016, but he was unfazed about the challenge ahead of him when he was asked about comparisons with the team’s most influential player. “I like watching (Antoine) Griezmann,” he said in his first interview at his new club, who had recently lost the Champions League final on penalties to Real Madrid. “I believe I can do similar things to him. Physically, we are similar.”

It would seem that coach Diego Simeone thought differently as Jota did not see a minute of competitive action before he was sent to Porto for a season the following month and then sold to Wolverhampton Wanderers two summers later following a successful loan period there the previous season.

There are several different theories about why this happened, with sources in Madrid telling The Athletic that above anything else you hear about Jota’s short time in the Spanish capital, Simeone’s opinion matters most and ultimately, he did not think he was ready to cope with the substantial demands he places on players.

“The jump from Pacos de Ferreira to Atletico in one moment was too big because of what Simeone asks the team to do,” says an agent who has secured the passage of players both in and out of the Madrid club.

Jota, it is claimed, was not one of Simeone’s transfer targets, but was a part of a recruitment strategy that involved Miguel Angel Gil Marin, the club’s president, and Gestifute, the agency managed by Jorge Mendes.

Though reports suggested scouts from Arsenal and West Ham United had watched him for Pacos, Jota said he had turned down “various offers” in favour of joining Atletico because he had been impressed by the club’s style of business. “Atletico’s way of presenting their offer seemed serious to me,” he explained. “The financial offer was the same as the others. I liked how the club’s owner went about it.”

Jota had public support at boardroom level. Atletico sporting director Jose Luis Perez Caminero spoke enthusiastically about the possibilities at his introductory press conference. “He is young, very fast and direct, carries the ball very well and can beat a defender,” said the former Spain international midfielder. “Diogo has a lot of potential, and stands out for his one-on-one and his versatility, so he can play in different positions.”

The player, meanwhile, vowed he was ready for Simeone and his methods. “I have a test of fire and I hope to adapt,” he said. “It will be more difficult on a physical level, that is clear. I will have to close up spaces in defence and then come out on the break. (What I like about Atletico) is the commitment to the game and the family spirit. When a player is beaten, two more cover for him. There is a lot of solidarity in the team.”

His first training session at Atletico’s Cerro del Espino complex was overseen by the Oscar “El Profe” (“The Professor”) Ortega, the Uruguayan fitness coach invited back to Atletico for a third spell by Simeone upon his own appointment in 2011, having worked with the manager in roles at Estudiantes, River Plate and San Lorenzo in Argentina and with Italy’s Catania. “Atletico players have to be able to withstand both Simeone and Ortega’s expectations in the first weeks of pre-season training to be in with a chance of first-team selection,” says another agent who has sold players to Atletico on several occasions. “Otherwise, he can say goodnight…”

Jota, apparently, was fine but beside him in one of those early running drills was Bernard Mensah, a Ghanaian midfielder who reportedly vomited under the strain of the demands. Like Jota, he had joined (albeit a year earlier) from a Portuguese club, Vitoria de Guimaraes, where he had also forged a relationship with Mendes and the Gestifute agency, securing him a six-year contract in Spain. By the time Mensah left the club permanently for Turkish side Kayserispor in 2019, he had made a grand total of zero competitive first-team appearances over his four years on Atletico’s books and been sent out on four season-long loans.

Jota was not the only player Atletico farmed out the summer he arrived. While Mensah went back to Vitoria, also sent to other clubs were Axel Werner (Boca Juniors), Theo Hernandez (Alaves), Oliver Torres (Porto), Amath Ndiaye (Tenerife), Luciano Vietto, Matias Kranevitter (both Sevilla), Rafael Santos Borre (Villarreal), Javier Manquillo (Sunderland), Emiliano Velazquez (Braga), Hector Hernandez (Albacete) and Guilherme Siqueira (Valencia).

This high number led to questions about why none were able to break into Simeone’s set-up. One suggestion was that Atletico were signing lots of youngsters without really thinking about how they would use them. Another was that they should be credited for their policy of investing in low-risk potential that, at some stage, might stimulate financial growth.

One source in the agency world told The Athletic this week said that Atletico and Mendes have benefited “roughly equally” from their work together over the years because each one respects the other’s position and reach. Jota, it has been said, was signed without any great expectation he would immediately force his way into the first-team in his early years but the player possessed undoubted potential for the years ahead.

As it was, his Atletico career ultimately amounted to four-pre-season appearances that first summer. He made his debut in a friendly against Numancia before featuring for 30 minutes in a tour match against Australian side Melbourne Victory which ended in a 1-0 defeat. He would play six minutes against Crotone of Italy 10 days later, scoring a goal by sharply rounding the goalkeeper, but he was only named on the bench by Simeone when he fielded what was otherwise an understrength side in another defeat, this time away to Cadiz.

By the end of August, just five weeks after Jota had been presented in front of the cameras with a grinning club president Enrique Cerezo, Simeone had decided that another new signing, Nicolas Gaitan, would be used in the only available position in his team. Knowing Yannick Carrasco and Griezmann were also options on the right side of the attack, Jota was happy to move back to Portugal on loan for a year because there were higher possibilities of game time and Porto was, after all, a step up from Pacos.

His return to Spain in 2017 coincided with Atletico being banned from making transfers after breaching rules over the signing of minors but Simeone decided he still didn’t need Jota. This resulted in an initial loan deal with Wolves, where he was reunited with Nuno Espirito Santo, who had been his coach at Porto the previous season. His performances as Wolves romped to the Championship title led to a permanent agreement worth €14 million (£12.3 million), of which Atletico earned €11.2 million. A clause in the contract would have allowed them to buy him back for €20 million but instead he joined Liverpool for more than double that amount.

It is a curious chapter in Jota’s career but it is by no means a unique case of Atletico buying a player and selling him without them making much, or any, impression. Jonny Castro Otto, the full-back, joined Atletico for €7 million in July 2018 from Spain’s Celta Vigo and was then loaned out the very next day, also to Wolves, while the AS newspaper created a slideshow of 10 players Atletico have signed but never used.

In the end, Atletico would make just over €4 million on Jota, which isn’t bad for a player who never made a competitive appearance in their colours.

Wolves had first looked at signing Jota in the summer he went to Atletico, with new owners Fosun enlisting Mendes’ help in bringing in a glut of new players, and he would eventually arrive a year later when Nuno took charge.

During Wolves’ pre-season trip to Austria in July 2017, sporting director Kevin Thelwell was informed Jota was surplus to requirements at Atletico and he flew to the Spanish capital to meet president Cerezo and negotiate a deal.

Wolves were keen to structure their outgoings across financial years to help comply with FFP regulations and therefore signed Jota initially on loan with an option to make the deal permanent. They saw the then 20-year-old as an ideal fit in their new 3-4-3 system, owing to his versatility to play out wide or as a second, central forward.

Like almost all of Wolves’ many Portuguese signings, having compatriots in Wolverhampton helped Jota quickly settle in the area in their mini Portugal, which is spread across Tettenhall and Compton near the training ground.

He and midfielder Ruben Neves, along with their respective childhood sweethearts Rute and Debora, were particularly close. The Portuguese-speaking contingent, also including Ruben Vinagre, Roderick Miranda and Leo Bonatini, would frequently spend evenings at each other’s houses or at nearby Italian restaurant Fiume. Late-night drinking or parties were not in Jota’s schedule though, which all chimed with the club’s “no dickheads” policy of signing low-maintenance, mature, hard-working professionals.

On the field, the combative, aggressive, dynamic Jota was ideally suited to the rigours of the Championship. In the early days, he would whine to referees about the rough treatment he received, but he soon learnt to bounce back to his feet and use his deceptive strength to his advantage.

Jota scored 17 goals as Wolves ran the second division title by nine points. No one was in doubt that he would thrive in the Premier League, but a goalless drought of 13 games at the start of the 2018-19 campaign (not helped by a niggling ankle injury) knocked his confidence. Nuno stuck by his man and a switch in formation, unleashing Jota in his preferred central position, yielded instant success with his first goal coming during Wolves’ first use of a 3-5-2 system, in a 2-1 home win over Chelsea.


(Photo: Sam Bagnall – AMA/Getty Images)
Starting with that Chelsea match, Jota scored 10 goals and provided seven assists in 21 appearances across all competitions, striking up a formidable partnership with striker Raul Jimenez. Jota was almost unstoppable in this period.

He scored a hat-trick in a 4-3 victory over Leicester City (Nuno ran on the pitch to celebrate his last-minute winner with him) and then a seminal goal in an FA Cup quarter-final win against Manchester United at a feral Molineux. In the semi-final at Wembley he was Wolves’ best player, incessantly dragging his team up-field as Watford hacked at him in vain, like zombies clawing at the last surviving human. Wolves were 2-1 up when Jota was substituted in the 89th minute – and lost 3-2 after extra time.

Despite his individual heroics, Jota was rarely talked about as a candidate for someone who would be lured to a bigger club, with Jimenez, Neves and later Adama Traore often taking the spotlight away from him.

He was happy and settled at Molineux. Away from playing football he’d spend his days… playing football. The virtual kind — honing his obsessions with FIFA as well as Football Manager.

In the management-simulation game, he would pick lower-league teams such as Wolves’ neighbours Telford United and his old side Gondomar and build them all the way up to European finals.

When The Athletic asked him if he saw a similar path in real life with Wolves, he said: “Maybe it’s me as a person.”

He also suggested that his football computer-game infatuation (playing on his laptop in bed while his partner slept next to him) helped him in the real world.

“In FIFA, you can (then) understand tactics better,” he said. “Yes, you play for fun, but you’re trying to work at different things. For example, the first half your opponent might play a specific way, so in the second half you try to counteract that.

“In terms of Football Manager you can better understand the life of a (head) coach. You understand what a manager likes and the things he has to deal with. For example, you can be involved in every single decision and aspect of the club, or let your assistant do the boring stuff.”

Back on the field, his final season with Wolves was defined by streaks which either involved a glut of goals in quick succession or going weeks without scoring. He scored the club’s first European goal in almost 40 years in a Europa League qualifier against Northern Ireland’s Crusaders, the first of nine in the competition as Wolves got to the last eight including two hat-tricks — one of which came in 11 second-half minutes against Besiktas of Turkey.

“He’s like a bee, buzzing around, you’re trying to swat him and you can’t get anywhere near him,” said Mel Eves, who had scored Wolves’ previous goal in Europe in October 1980.

In the Premier League however, he found goals harder to come by (only three in 16 appearances before Christmas), not helped by Nuno switching back to 3-4-3 for much of the season. Jota’s a confidence player and suddenly looked like he had none. He missed 12 “big chances” during the season while his xG of 11.51 (he scored seven) was ahead of Tottenham’s Son Heung-min and Richarlison of Everton, hinting that finishing touch was the main thing lacking from a player who looked fatigued towards the end of the campaign.

Nuno’s mind was made up — Jota could go in the summer if the price was right. He started only three of Wolves’ final eight matches and was the second substitute used in the club’s biggest game for decades, a Europa League quarter-final defeat to Sevilla, having dropped down the pecking order.

There was a feeling Jota had done all he could with Wolves.

A ceiling had been reached — to further his game he needed a fresh start in a team who created more chances. And the prospect of a fee up to £45 million was just too good to turn down.

In the summer of 2013, Liverpool thought they had finally made the breakthrough with one of Mendes’ most in-demand clients.

This was a period of uncertainty at Anfield. With Luis Suarez desperate to leave, the club missed out on successive attacking targets when Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined Borussia Dortmund and Willian moved to Chelsea.

Brendan Rodgers had told the club’s transfer board, led by Michael Edwards, that he wanted a powerful and mobile No 9 who was capable of reading the movement of Liverpool’s trickier forward options. Diego Costa was 24 and had broken into Atletico Madrid’s team, scoring 20 goals across all competitions the previous season having formed a deadly partnership with Radamel Falcao. With Suarez kicking up a fuss, there were some concerns about Costa’s own reputation for ill-discipline but having established with Mendes that he had a €25 million release clause, Liverpool were cautiously optimistic of completing a deal.

Inside three days, however, Costa had signed a new contract that would keep him in the Spanish capital for a season that would conclude with Atletico winning the La Liga title and another 36 club goals to his name. Jose Mourinho, back at Chelsea, had told Mendes he wanted to recruit Costa but was unable to for the time being because owner Roman Abramovich was desperate for Fernando Torres to establish himself as the club’s main centre-forward. Meanwhile, Mourinho also had a young Romelu Lukaku in his squad.

Mendes and Costa were asked to wait a year. By that point, Mourinho would be in a better position to make his move. Liverpool, stung by the experience, were left to imagine how devastating a Suarez-Costa attack could have been.

The club’s dealings with Mendes have since improved. There is a huge respect for the way the Portuguese agent operates and a belief he makes transfers a lot more straightforward than they often can be because he is so well connected and, ultimately, decisive. There is also recognition that key figures such as Edwards, who has since emerged as one of the most effective sporting directors in the world, were still learning on the job back then.

Having quietly completed the signing of Fabinho from Monaco in 2018 after discussions with Mendes, Liverpool were in a better position to broker a deal for Jota two years later. It became clear to them that they were not only an attractive option for the player because they were Premier League champions, but because Mendes and Wolves realised Jota had to move on as it was critical to that club’s recruitment model, which dictates potential new signings need to see there is a path for them to bigger stages if they perform well in the old gold.


(Photo: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Liverpool’s scouts had first monitored Jota in 2016, during his loan season at Porto. They had since watched him across three seasons at Molineux. When Jurgen Klopp decided the squad needed another forward early on in Liverpool’s title campaign, the recruitment department set about creating a dossier of targets, which was narrowed down to a shortlist of Jota, Timo Werner of Germany’s RB Leipzig, Watford’s Ismaila Sarr and Jonathan David, a Canadian winger at Belgian side Gent.

After Liverpool pulled away from a deal for Werner amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, it became clear that David, at 20 years old, wanted to be a regular starter and the possibility of this happening was greater for him at French club Lille, who had just sold their top-scorer Victor Osimhen to Napoli of Italy, than at Anfield.

Jota’s abilities were illustrated across a file of information, which included performance assessments covering 20 games. His case was helped by his impact in fixtures against Liverpool.

From a distance, Klopp concluded that Jota was a spiky character and saw parallels in his career with those he would be competing with for a place in the Liverpool side. None of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino had taken the direct route to the top and given that Jota still had so much more to achieve, Klopp felt his ability and personality had the potential to drive up competition, keeping others hungry and driving them forward even further.

Jota’s seven goals in his first 11 games for Liverpool has included a Champions League hat-trick at Atalanta, which secured his inclusion in the side that drew away to title rivals Manchester City in the last match before this international break.

He has impressed Klopp’s coaches with his inquisitiveness and the way he embraces new ideas as well as the speed at which he can implement them on the training ground.

Most importantly, perhaps, the players have welcomed him and several think he has already become an important member of the team. For so long, it has seemed Mane, Salah and Firmino were an unshakeable front three but that is no longer the case. It is expected that if Jota doesn’t become one of their replacements, he will join them in the starting XI.

His journey to this point suggests he will find a way.
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Old 22-11-20, 09:48 PM   #249
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Old 22-11-20, 09:48 PM   #250
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Old 22-11-20, 11:02 PM   #251
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Opta have confirmed Diogo Jota's goal for Liverpool came after a sequence of 30 passes.

Since Opta have collected this data, from 2006-07, that is the most in the build up to any Premier League goal by the Reds.
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Old 23-11-20, 08:27 AM   #252
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i was screaming at the TV when that went in, the passage of play before was fantastic to watch; pulled Leicester left, right, left, right & waited for the opportunity to find Robbo in space. was brilliant to watch.
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Old 23-11-20, 09:30 AM   #253
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Another absolutely class signing - he looks like he is made for us and us for him - brilliant
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Old 23-11-20, 09:39 AM   #254
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He is absolutely amazing.

Where does he get his upper body strength from? I know Salah is slight but very strong on the ball, but he looks pure muscle. Jota looks like he has the body of an eight year old girl.
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Old 23-11-20, 10:54 AM   #255
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Also really impressed with his ability to play on the right. A lot of wide players these days either seem to prefer being on the side of their stronger foot or cutting in. He looks equally at ease either side or through the middle. Doesn't effect his movement or output at all seemingly. He's outstanding in possession too, loved it on the counter in the second half when he hung onto it then thread Mane (?) through. Fits like a glove, unbelievable signing thus far.
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Old 23-11-20, 12:47 PM   #256
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His movement and finishing have been so good that surely he has to be a starter for us? He must be a nightmare to mark. Teams have been trying to work out for years how to deal with Mo, Mane & Bobby, Jota has blown away any game plan on how to deal with LFC's forwards.
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Old 23-11-20, 01:20 PM   #257
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I must admit I had some doubts when we signed him, I know he had a decent record with Wolves but based on what I had seen of him there I would have said he was a decent PL player but nothing more. Fair play to our recruitment team for spotting the potential and him and the coaching team for bringing that out, because on the form he has shown so far he looks on the same level as Mane and Salah. And I think if you had said that a few months ago people would have laughed at you.
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Old 23-11-20, 01:27 PM   #258
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I know it's daft, but you look at him and you can't see it. I think this guy doesn't have the makings of a varsity athlete.
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Old 23-11-20, 01:55 PM   #259
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Thank Citeh didn't make a move for Jota, looks 2nd rate
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Old 23-11-20, 02:16 PM   #260
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I know it's daft, but you look at him and you can't see it. I think this guy doesn't have the makings of a varsity athlete.
Alright uncle Jun
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Old 23-11-20, 02:54 PM   #261
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What's incredible about him and what must be a nightmare to defend against is that he's so two-footed. It's really difficult to show him onto a weaker side when he doesn't appear to have one.

He's faster than what I thought he would be too - particularly over those key first 5/10 yards.
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Old 23-11-20, 03:13 PM   #262
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He honestly looks world class already. Hard to fault anything he does. Maybe final pass is still lacking? Other than that, wow!
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Old 23-11-20, 03:15 PM   #263
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He honestly looks world class already. Hard to fault anything he does. Maybe final pass is still lacking? Other than that, wow!
Did you not see that threaded pass to Bobby? When he *almost* scored, fantastic pass.
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Old 23-11-20, 03:21 PM   #264
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Did you not see that threaded pass to Bobby? When he *almost* scored, fantastic pass.
Yep he definitely has the potential, but last season for Wolves he only managed 1 assist in the Premier League (in 34 games) so it's clearly an area he can improve on.
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Old 23-11-20, 03:29 PM   #265
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I know it's daft, but you look at him and you can't see it. I think this guy doesn't have the makings of a varsity athlete.
You mean by his appearance or from watching him on the field?

He clearly has it, if it's the latter, properly can use both feet and is always passing and moving forward.

Very good in tight areas with the ball pinged into him.
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Old 23-11-20, 03:31 PM   #266
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Old 23-11-20, 03:34 PM   #267
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in the words of Ted Crilly.......ahhhh he's great
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Old 23-11-20, 07:29 PM   #268
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There is no drop off in quality with Jota in the team.

Salah out and he just moves to the right and shines.
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Old 23-11-20, 08:09 PM   #269
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You mean by his appearance or from watching him on the field?

He clearly has it, if it's the latter, properly can use both feet and is always passing and moving forward.

Very good in tight areas with the ball pinged into him.
Appearance.
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Old 23-11-20, 09:17 PM   #270
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There is no drop off in quality with Jota in the team.

Salah out and he just moves to the right and shines.
IMO there has been an increase in quality when he is in the front three. #sorrynotsorry
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Old 23-11-20, 10:52 PM   #271
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IMO there has been an increase in quality when he is in the front three. #sorrynotsorry


Runs with the ball so smoothly.
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Old 23-11-20, 10:53 PM   #272
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IMO there has been an increase in quality when he is in the front three. #sorrynotsorry
I think that the opposition has had time to adapt to the Salah, Mané, Firminho triangle. Premiership teams, and defences in particular, are well drilled these days, and the enemy plans well in advance for how they're going to try to nullify that threat - sometime it works, more often it doesn't.

And then Jota comes along with his butter-knife runs and two-footed fantasticness. He must be causing massive chaos in their ranks.

He's definitely caught them all on the hop - he's a completely unknown quantity and it's showing at the moment. What an embarrassment of riches upfront.
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Old 23-11-20, 10:55 PM   #273
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He is absolutely amazing.

Where does he get his upper body strength from? I know Salah is slight but very strong on the ball, but he looks pure muscle. Jota looks like he has the body of an eight year old girl.
Which looks pretty much the same as the body of an eight year old boy
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Old 23-11-20, 11:17 PM   #274
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Which looks pretty much the same as the body of an eight year old boy
Why are you trying to bring this down to a level the poster wasn't intending to go down? Redreet has been on here years, he's sound, you know he is and you play this card? Its a cunts trick imo.
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Old 24-11-20, 06:38 AM   #275
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Why are you trying to bring this down to a level the poster wasn't intending to go down? Redreet has been on here years, he's sound, you know he is and you play this card? Its a cunts trick imo.
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Old 24-11-20, 09:38 AM   #276
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Why are you trying to bring this down to a level the poster wasn't intending to go down? Redreet has been on here years, he's sound, you know he is and you play this card? Its a cunts trick imo.
Surely Jota has the body of a 23 year old professional footballer
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Old 24-11-20, 10:21 AM   #277
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Surely Jota has the body of a 23 year old professional footballer
Wish I had the body of a 23 year old footballer, instead of a 40 year old dad bod
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Old 24-11-20, 10:55 AM   #278
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Yeah, but to be fair, a 40yr old dad bod is probably the same as what was a 23yr old Razor Ruddock, so technically, you do have one!
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Old 24-11-20, 02:03 PM   #279
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Why are you trying to bring this down to a level the poster wasn't intending to go down? Redreet has been on here years, he's sound, you know he is and you play this card? Its a cunts trick imo.
Or a cock's trick?
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Old 24-11-20, 03:47 PM   #280
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Body doesn't matter when you have the Suarez like tenacity.
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