Could Diogo Jota Become the Odd Man Out?
A few reports surfaced on Wednesday that had Newcastle perhaps interested in making an offer for Liverpool forward, Diogo Jota. The Magpies are looking to accelerate the growth of their footballing enterprise, making some very good acquisitions since their change in ownership. Eddie Howe has invested well thus far, with a clear intention to create a defensively solid foundation. Sven Botman and Bruno Guimarães stand out as brilliant additions, whilst Kieran Trippier has brought in a good level of experience and ability. The defensive and midfield groups look organised and well drilled, yet the forward line has often flattered to deceive.
Since the former Bournemouth manager took charge in November 2021, a serious amount of funds have been attributed to the regeneration of Newcastle United. With so many years of stagnation and disappointment, it was a relief for their fanbase to see such a turnaround in fortunes, literally. The recruitment drive has been controlled, steady, and in line with their growth, with the level of targets rising in line with their progression. Below are the listed incomings since the arrival of their 45-year-old manager.
- Kieran Trippier – £12m
- Chris Wood – £25m
- Bruno Guimaraes – £35m
- Dan Burn – £13m
- Matt Targett – £12m
- Nick Pope – £10m
- Sven Botman – £35m
- Alexander Isak – £59m
With an outlay that has now reached £200m, they have still to find the ideal attacking dynamic. Chris Wood was clearly a signing to help ensure safety in that first season, with a loan move to Nottingham Forest coming about this season. Callum Wilson is the senior central striker, though with both himself and Wood being 31-years of age, there is clear a desire to add more attacking talent. Alexander Isak is an ultra-talented and expensive forward asset, yet it still remains unclear as to how he will immerse with the St. James’ Park front line. The 23-year-old has just four goals and one assist in fifteen games, with a steady if unspectacular first season on Tyneside. In his previous two seasons (with Real Sociedad), the Swedish striker managed ten goals in forty games, after a seventeen in forty seven game campaign the season prior. This does not point to a prolific nature, though the first campaign in the Premier League can often times be deceiving.
With a fair chance of garnering a top four finish this year, there seems to be a real intent to continue spending. Forward momentum and continued regeneration of a side (which was once destined for relegation), is clearly part of the plan. The links to Liverpool’s Diogo Jota make perfect sense, whilst sitting in line with the next step of their evolution. With the Portuguese striker having a stuttering season that has been blighted by injury, the former Wolves player seems to have dropped down the pecking order, even after the departure of Sadio Mané. He had perhaps expected to be the heir to either the Senegalese captain, or the eventual successor for the outgoing Roberto Firmino. Neither of these things have come to fruition as yet, with a plethora of talented forwards arriving since the now 26-year-old, arrived at Anfield.
Below are some season statistics, since arriving at Liverpool for £41m.
2022/23 – So far…
Appearances – 14 games
Minutes played – 611 minutes
Goals & assists – 0 & 6
Appearances – 55 games
Minutes played – 3,572 minutes
Goals & assists – 21 & 8
Appearances – 30 games
Minutes played – 1,733 minutes
Goals & assists – 13 & 1
We all consider our number twenty to be a prolific marksman, that is able to play across the entire frontline. In terms of his recruitment, he was a depth piece that was added in order to bolster a group that was perhaps beginning to age out. His tenure has been impressive with moments of the spectacular, yet he remains a player more suited to the backup role. When Divock Origi was at the club, he offered even more special moments. His overall contribution was built upon legendary moments, without ever being able to become one of Jürgen Klopp starting a forwards, certainly after that first season. Though Jota is a more cultured and talented striker, he is still a player that will probably always be the man to come in, rather that the guy we are desperate to see start.
In this inflated market where certain clubs are awash with money, it allows opportunities to sell players for a large profit. Under the Sporting Directorship of Michael Edwards, we were able to offload Dominic Solanke, Jordon Ibe, and Brad Smith. That trio set Bournemouth back somewhere in the region of £45m, when Eddie Howe was the Cherries boss. That combination of fees paid for Fabinho, with much more business and sales allowing us our own regeneration, away from the previous Brendan Rodgers regime. Though I like Diogo Jota, I’m realistic to the moment we are in, as well as the summer I want us to have. If we were to consider 4-3-3 as the standard formation for next term, you could possibly outline the below lists as the attacking depth. With allowance for positional variation seeing some names doubled up, I will look to add a minimum of three names to each slot, with Diogo excluded.
I’m probably pushing a little if I were to pitch Luis Díaz on the right, however he did play a handful of games from the right, when at Porto. What is apparent, however, is a lack of genuine depth behind the Egyptian King. Though I am keen to see some minutes handed down to either Doak or Gordon, they are still teenagers that need to be managed. It is also conceivable that one (or both) are loaned out next year, in a move to replicate the good spell Harvey Elliott enjoyed (as a 17-year-old at Blackburn Rovers). In a world where Newcastle are willing payers of £70m (for the services of Diogo Jota), I’m afraid I would be inclined to take the money and reinvest in those that can impact the team more directly.
My first notion would probably to demand a straight swap for their brilliant midfielder, Bruno Guimaraes. With that turned down flat, I would then offer £50m plus the much-desired Jota. I imagine this would get both the Newcastle player and his agent intrigued, and whilst it would be a long shot, it is something our next Sporting Director should aim for. If we were unable to include the league’s stand out midfielder in any deal, then I would try and take as much money out of their vast reserves as possible. The reds requires three starting calibre midfielders, one defensive piece, and if Jota were to leave, a versatile forward that could improve our right hand side.
We have to be able to make the tough calls, and exploit the teams that are willing to pay hefty fees. We saw last weekend how incredibly exciting our new forward line could become, with my next thought on how to integrate Luis Díaz. If Diogo Jota were to remain, his involvement could well reduce towards the numbers once heralded by Origi, who could have been sold (for £30m) after the Champions League winning season. We are not in position to have 5th choice forwards who are rated at £70m, continually watching from the stands. If we are to enable to kind of mass regeneration we require, I would be taking the Eddie Howe money (again), and reinvesting in way which once brought us all the glory.