On September 19th, 2020, Liverpool announced the signing of Diogo Jota from Wolves on a long-term deal. Despite being the Premier League champions, the transfer bolstered an area of weakness within the Reds squad in providing adequate cover for Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane.
While Jota’s versatility is one of his greatest assets, his arrival brings direct competition to Liverpool’s much-loved Senegalese winger. With that in mind, let’s consider how the 23-year-old is the perfect backup for Mane.
Since Mane arrived at Liverpool from Southampton in the summer of 2016, the Sedhiou-born attacker has established himself as a world-class player. Under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp, the 2019-20 Golden Boot winner has added both assists and goals to his game, as well as consistency. In spite of no direct competition, Mane has very rarely failed to step up the plate for Liverpool, particularly in the past two seasons.
Although Jota may not have been at the top of the list of Mane understudies among Liverpool fans, the data shows why the Reds’ German manager bought the former Wolves winger. According toa heatmap from Squawka
, both players predominantly occupied the left flank. However, they also drifted over to the right-hand side of the field, in addition to tracking back to fulfill their defensive duties throughout the 2019-20 campaign.
If Liverpool are to launch an assault on the Champions League and the Premier League, then having such a natural rotation option waiting in the wings is pivotal. With group-stage matches against Ajax, Atalanta, and Midtjylland to come in Europe, Klopp will likely turn to Jota when seeking to rest Mane. With opportunities on the horizon, the 23-year-old could help the Reds win their seventh European title, an accomplishment that they are currently 6.70 (+570) to achieve in 2020-21 withBetsson online odds
, as of October 7th.
Over the course of his managerial career, Jurgen Klopp hasn’t often purchased world-class players, aside from Thiago Alcantara. Instead, he’s coached many of that have worked with him into highly sought-after stars, including the likes of Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels, and Roberto Lewandowski at Borussia Dortmund. The same can also be said during his tenure at Anfield. After joiningLiverpool for $10.2 million
in July 2017, Andy Robertson, for example, has become one of the best left-backs in world football.
There’s no reason that Jota can’t be the latest in a long line of Klopp success stories. Given that the Portuguese winger is five years younger than Mane, there’s a pathway in place that could see him become a long-term player on Merseyside under the club’s German manager. In possessing the high-pressing style that Klopp favors, Jota already has the fundamentals to succeed at Anfield, while his scope to develop should also excite Liverpool supporters.
Of course, football is an unpredictable sport. Although there’s no guarantee that Jota will be another smartly-recruited addition to Klopp’s “mentality monsters”, his likeness to Mane is there for all to see. Much like the Senegalese attacker when he first joined, consistency is an issue. However, Klopp’s ironed out that weakness in Mane’s game, so there’s little to suggest that he can’t do the same with Jota.