Written by James Cranford – @jamescranford89
Liverpool have a rather lengthy injury list ahead of this Saturday’s Premier League curtain-raiser against newly-promoted Fulham. Goalkeepers Caoimhin Kelleher and Alisson are doubtful for the game, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ruled out long term with a serious hamstring injury. Another player stricken with hamstring trouble is Diogo Jota, who has missed the majority of pre-season. The Portuguese attacker is expected to be out for at least a few more weeks.
The former Wolves and Atlético forward will not be feeling to downbeat this week however, as it was announced he has signed a five-year contract extension. Jota has impressed in his two years on Merseyside, scoring 29 goals in 58 starts – the classic ‘quality striker’ ratio of one goal every two games.
“I think he has probably exceeded expectations in terms of the impact that he has made – getting into the side, scoring goals, scoring big goals, being a part of a successful team. I think it’s a reward thing. I don’t think he came in on huge wages, he came in on ‘Wolves-plus’ sort of wages, I think now he is on a Liverpool first team wage. Five-year deal, he’s 25, he’s part of the long-term future around the club. [He is] Very much someone who has just fitted in to the mentality and the way that Liverpool want to play.
He signed for Liverpool when Sadio Mané, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino – the most established front three in Europe [were starting], he backed himself to come in and break that up. I don’t think there’s any fear about the challenge that lies ahead of him. I think he will back himself to play a lot of games and I’m sure he will, provided he stays fit. It’s what we’ve been calling for for a long time, how many times have you heard fans talking about City having four or five attacking options and Liverpool, maybe beyond the front three, only having Origi or Minamino or whoever? The subs for a game now could be Jota and Firmino, or it could be Núñez and Diaz.
Jota may have slightly lost his sheen as he is no longer Liverpool’s ‘new toy’ in attack, but the 25-year-old’s new deal is well deserved and will provide him with a boost as he recovers from injury. The Portuguese attacker provides a threat with his goalscoring and direct running in both the central and left sided positions. The Reds now have superb strength in depth in the forward line and any combination of their five attacking options should be a real handful for any defence. Jota may find it hard to guarantee a starting berth every week, but provided his goal-to-minutes ratio stays high, he will know he is playing a vital role in bringing more major honours to Merseyside.