Diogo Jota’s recent return from a long injury layoff has been one of the few bright spots in what has proven to be a very challenging, mostly soul-crushing, 2021 for Liverpool. The Portuguese forward provided a welcome fourth option for Liverpool’s front three in the early season, and his absence has been felt as the goals dried up over the last few months.
One unfortunate side effect of Jota’s return is the renewal of endless conversations about who should join Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané as the last piece of the front three in Liverpool’s first-choice XI. One of the voices calling for the newcomer to supplant the Brazilian veteran is former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher.
Carragher, who was vocal about his desire to see Jota replace Firmino before the former’s injury, has resumed calling for the change, telling CBS Sports it may have happened already if Jota had stayed healthy.
“Yes, I mean I have been calling for [Jota to start over Firmino] that a while,” admitted Carragher. “I think Firmino has been fortunate that Jota has been out for so long because I think he was on the verge of breaking that front three up, really.”
Though Firmino’s overall value has always been much greater than his ability to score goals, he has received criticism this year for failing to match even the modest scoring returns of recent seasons. According to Carragher, Liverpool can’t afford a center forward who isn’t putting the ball in the net when the rest of the team is struggling to do so as well. In light of this, he believes it’s time for Jota to step into a bigger role.
“But Jota is a bigger goal threat, right at this moment. We know Firmino brings other things. But to just think that Liverpool need to get as many goalscorers as possible on the pitch because the midfield players don’t score, the full-backs create and they have lost Van Dijk. Jota needs to be on that pitch.”
While Carragher has leaned into the hot takes side of punditry a little too often lately, it’s hard to find much fault in his arguments on this particular topic, even if one doesn’t necessarily agree with his ultimate conclusion that Jota should be starting over Firmino.
Liverpool are dramatically underperforming in the goalscoring department, and Jota showed a penchant for finishing his chances before his injury. While he may not slide into the first choice XI immediately, it sure seems like Jota is going to have plenty of chances to increase Liverpool’s goal tally and earn a bigger role in the weeks ahead.