LASTING IMPRESSION: Klopp on Diogo Jota before Wolves clash
Diogo Jota made such a first impression on Jurgen Klopp the Liverpool manager was immediately convinced the forward would be a good fit for his team.
The Portugal international caught the eye playing for Wolves in their FA Cup third-round victory over the weakened Reds in January 2018.
Less than two years later he had switched sides and as he prepares to face his former club’s fans for the first time since leaving, Red boss Klopp explained what persuaded him to spend £41million on the forward.
“I remember the first time I saw him I thought he could be a player for me because of how intense he was in all situations,” said Klopp.
“Technically he was on a really high level but the intensity he puts in makes all the difference as at our level all players have technical quality.
“You make a difference with your attitude and that was what I was most excited about adding Diogo to the mix.
“People said he didn’t score an awful lot of goals but the problem is Wolves had the most intense style of play for offensive wingers.
“(Raul) Jimenez was allowed to stay up but the rest had to cover the whole pitch and it costs you energy. And he was very young then.
“All that made it very interesting for us (and) it was clear he would make the next steps with us.
“What I didn’t know when I saw him first is Diogo is an incredible package.
“From a personality point of view he is an incredible boy, really smart, structured in a nice way.”
Jota has scored four goals in his last three matches, deputising superbly for the injured Roberto Firmino, and is currently only being outscored in the Premier League by team-mate Mohamed Salah and Leicester’s Jamie Vardy.
Many of his goals are right place, right time to apply a simple finish with others, like Wednesday’s in the Merseyside derby victory, individually brilliant.
Asked how much was instinct and how much was the game-plan Klopp added: “I don’t know how much but for a striker he has to be there.
“The second goal (against Southampton last weekend) Mo passed the ball square and Diogo was there (to tap in).
“People say these goals are easy but they are not easy because you have to read the situation, so that is both instinct but as design he has to be there, that’s what you do in training.”
One player who has made goalscoring look ridiculously easy is Salah whose double against Everton made it 19 goals in as many games this season.
He needs one goal before December 15th to become the third-fastest to 20 goals in a season for the club behind Ian Rush (1986) and the late Roger Hunt (1961).
The Egypt international is setting new standards this season as, by comparison, in his record-breaking 44-goal maiden campaign in 2017-18 he managed 21 before Christmas.
He has also provided eight assists in 14 Premier League games to go along with his 13 league goals but Klopp denied they had made changes to make him more of a team player.
“It’s not a coincidence but we didn’t have a specific talk about that as these things happen naturally,” said his manager.
“He was never criticised by us for being too selfish because he never was. For a striker who comes in situations where we want him to finish off and from time to time oversees a mate who is maybe in a better position is completely normal.
“What helps a lot is experience, being in similar situations for plenty of times that you know what happens when we are there.
“Mo now has the experience, is calm enough, didn’t lose any kind of greed for scoring and has developed technically again.
“It’s incredible what he did, and when he sees someone in a better position for sure he passes the ball there.
“But when he thinks he can finish it off himself I expect him to finish it off himself even when he misses the chance because that’s the nature of a chance.”
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