As the old saying goes, you wait ages for a bus and then two come along at once. This is likely how Liverpool fans felt on what the club dubbed #ThiagoFriday. The ink hadn’t even dried on Thiago’s contract before local journalists were talking about another Liverpool signing; Diogo Jota.
There has been much discussion of the fee and comparisons of course have been made to the deal for Timo Werner. On the face of it, the headline fees of £45m for Diogo Jota and £54m for Timo Werner are not miles apart. However, with the loss of income due to a pandemic, the crucial thing here is likely cash flow, as outlined by @SwissRamble.
With a release clause, Chelsea are required to make the payment of the clause in full immediately. This means needing to pay out the full £54m this summer to acquire Timo Werner. As we can see in Melissa’s tweet above, Liverpool negotiated the Jota deal to only pay 10% of the fee this summer, and that was offset by the sale of Ki-Jana Hoever to Wolves.
This is without taking into account other costs beyond the transfer fees, such as agent fees, signing bonuses and wages, which could be three times as high for Werner.
Ultimately, football fans don’t really care how much a player costs as long as he delivers on the pitch. So, what does the data say of Diogo Jota in the Premier League?
Liverpool Sign Diogo Jota: Dribbling
In a recent article on this site, it was highlighted how impactful Jeremie Boga’s dribbling was. In fact, only Lionel Messi has a bigger impact with his dribbling in Europe’s top five leagues.
In the Premier League, the player who has the largest impact with dribbling is Mohamed Salah. This is despite the fact he has nowhere near the volume of dribbles as Traore, Zaha or Saint-Maximin.
Diogo Jota is also putting up good numbers here though, as highlighted to the left.
While he isn’t in either the extremely high volume group or effective group, he is in the next tier for each. His dribbling is having a similar impact as former Liverpool targets Christian Pulisic and Nabil Fekir.
Liverpool Sign Diogo Jota: Finishing Analysis
The first thing to notice here immediately are how incredibly two-footed he is. Over his two season’s in the Premier League, he has eight goals with each foot.
Secondly, he puts away big chances at an elite rate. Over the last two years, he has scored fifteen of the twenty-eight big chances he has had. This is a rate of 54% which, as mentioned in the past, puts him on a par with or better than the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Ciro Immobile, Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane, Sergio Agüero, Karim Benzema, Mauro Icardi and Lionel Messi in terms of the conversion rate of big chances.
Lastly, he appears to be awful at heading the ball. Of the big chances missed above, five of them were headers. While at Liverpool, this probably isn’t a huge issue, the Reds do create headed chances that the likes of Mané and Salah need to finish off.
For example, in the same position as Mané against Chelsea, would he be able to convert this chance. The data suggests probably not.
All players have their strengths and weaknesses go and, should this be a limitation of Diogo Jota, it isn’t really much of a problem in Liverpool’s system.
Liverpool Sign Diogo Jota: The Eye Test
What is immediately noticeable watching his goals so far for Wolves is how early he likes to shoot. Almost every goal in this compilation involves him either hitting shots first time, low and hard. Or using his first touch to set himself for a shot with his second.
Those who follow me on twitter will have seen me talk of this skillset with Enrico Chiesa in the past. Hitting shots early, before a keeper has set themselves and not giving them a chance to close the angle, puts all the advantages with the shot taker. Added to this, hitting shots low and hard is the worst place for keepers to get to on reactionary saves. At best, they can will react and try to make a foot save. If you are tucking shots in the corners before they close angles, that won’t help them.
Liverpool Sign Diogo Jota: Shot Technique and Preferances
We can see from this visual kindly provided by @SamMcGuire90 of twenty3.sport that this is a consistent thing with Jota. He is hitting 72% of his shots low in the goal and just 6% high. From these shots, he is getting 81.3% of his goals going low with shots – converting at a rate of a goal every 2.76 shots.
Jota also has a tendency to score to the right of the goalkeeper (or the left side of the above graphic), with 60% of his goals.
You can also see plenty of room for improvement too. The majority of his shots (66%) are a little too close to the keeper in that central band of the goal. If he can refine his processes a little and start getting more of his shots down nearer the corners, his goal-scoring numbers would sky-rocket.
In Luis Suarez’s first season with Liverpool, many fans were saying he didn’t look like a goalscorer. He wasn’t a ‘good finisher’ and might be better off creating from a wide area than central as a goalscorer. The same Luis Suarez was scoring 31 league goals in no time. He refined his processes and those shots hitting the post or being saved too close to the keeper, became goals.
Liverpool Sign Diogo Jota: Projecting Improvement
A criticism of Diogo Jota that you have probably seen since his move is that he is ‘inconsistent’. That he can be a world-beater on his day but that ‘his day’ isn’t often enough.
This is quite common with younger players though. As mentioned before, it is typically around the age of 23 or 24 when young players put everything together and find consistency and their peak end product.
And, from a coaching perspective, you can find greatness with an inconsistent player, but not one who is mediocre at this age.
If this narrative sounds familiar to you, it is because the same was levied at Sadio Mané when he was plying his trade at Southampton.
We can see from the two graphs above, Jota’s first season at Wolves was better than either of Sadio’s two seasons at Southampton.
It wasn’t until Mané joined Liverpool, in a better and more attacking team that he found that consistency.
That doesn’t automatically mean Diogo Jota’s graph will follow Mané’s. Just that he will be in the right environment now for him to reach the next levels.
Liverpool Sign Diogo Jota: In Conclusion
Fans tend to see what is, not what could be. However, when coaches see players, they also see what they could make of them. In Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have a coach with a track record of turning forwards into lethal goal-scorers. From Barrios, Lewandowski, Reus, and Aubameyang at Dortmund to Coutinho, Salah and Mané at Liverpool, his knack for refining processes to evolve talented players into extremely high-output forwards is second to none.
Diogo Jota’s base of wanting to get shots off early, keeping them low and aiming for the corners is a fantastic starting point. And at 23-years-old, he is also at the age where talented kids start to put their games together and they start moving towards their peak output years of 24-29.
Jota is already an exciting talent. What Klopp could make of him is absolutely tantalising.
A glossary of all the terms used in this article and throughout the site as a whole is available here. Also, click on any image in the article for full-size high definition version.
All data used in our articles is sourced from Understat, FBRef, Sofascore, Transfermarkt and 538.