Diogo Jota’s “intuition in the box is so difficult to coach”, according to Pep Lijnders, who thinks the Liverpool star is “on the same technical level” as Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Jota has had an immediate impact at Anfield since joining the club from Wolves for £41 million ($57m) in the summer transfer window, scoring goals for fun despite the Reds’ patchy form in 2020-21.
The Portuguese has added even greater depth to Liverpool’s all-star attacking ranks, with assistant manager Lijnders left in awe over how quickly he has adapted to Jurgen Klopp’s system.
“Jota is on the same technical level as our front three – I said this before and the whole world can see it. Quick and being quick in mind is a lethal combination for a striker, he has ‘direction’ in his game,” Lijnders told the club’s official website.
“Diogo understands that it’s not about him, it’s about him, Sadio, Bobby, Mo, it’s about togetherness.Adapting to our pressing style isn’t easy but with him it goes very naturally.
“It says a lot how quick he adapted to the team and how quick the team adapted to him. 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.”
Jota forced his way into Klopp’s starting XI in the first half of the season by proving he can match the output of Salah, Mane and Firmino in the final third of the pitch.
The 24-year-old scored nine goals in his first 17 games across all competitions for the Reds, including a stunning hat-trick against Atalanta in the Champions League group stage.
However, Jota’s progress was halted by a serious knee injury in early December, and Liverpool struggled in his absence over the festive period as the fixture list began to pile up.
He made his long-awaited return to action off the bench during a home defeat to Chelsea at the start of the month, before starting the Premier League champions’ nextthree games.
Jota got back among the goals by scoring the winner against Wolves at Molineux in Liverpool’s final outing before the international break, and his continued presence will be crucial to their chances of finishing in the top four and going all the way in the Champions League.
Jota will be back in contention for a spot in Klopp’s line-up when the Reds take in a trip to Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal on April 3.
Liverpool will then have three days to prepare for thefirst leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid in Spain.
Source : goal.com