Before his injury late in the autumn, Diogo Jota was shaping up to be the signing of the season in the Premier League such was his impact in front of goal for Liverpool.
His subsequent absence, with goals drying up and dropped points becoming the norm as the Reds dropped out of first the title race and then the top four, only served to highlight the impact he had made—while perhaps setting unreasonable expectations for his eventual return.
No matter his goal tally the rest of the way, though, it’s been clear that his return to action has improved Liverpool’s attack, and according to assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders that’s down to instincts that are difficult to coach.
“It says a lot how quick he adapted to the team and how quick the team adapted to him,” Lijnders told the club’s official website. “It’s just pure quality as a team player and as a person.
“He has this positioning in the box where he is often on the right spot in the right time. This intuition in the box, this pure instinct, that is something that is so difficult to coach. I still find it really difficult to coach that attribute.”
When Jota arrived over the summer, it was suggested Lijnders—who spent time as a young coach in Portugal—had been bullish on the player after keeping an eye on his development and was key in the club’s decision to target him.
Now, if he can stay fit and return fully to his autumn form, it will give the Reds four of the best attacking talents in the game—boosting hopes not just in the league and Europe this season, but heading into the 2021-22 campaign.
“Jota is on the same technical level as our front three,” Lijnders added. “I said this before and the whole world can see it. Quick and being quick in mind is a lethal combination for a striker.
“Diogo understands that it’s not about him—it’s about him, Sadio, Bobby, Mo. It’s about togetherness.”