The Unseen Challenges of Liverpool’s Previous Season
There were many reasons for Liverpool’s struggles last season, not least an ageing midfield and a system that completely fell apart around it.
Then there were the endless injuries that held the Reds back, whether it be Ibrahima Konate in defence, Thiago in midfield or Luis Diaz out wide.
Someone whose absence arguably wasn’t highlighted as much was Diogo Jota, though, who also missed a big chunk of the campaign, having been stretchered off late on in the 1-0 win at home to Man City last October. The injury cost the Portuguese a place at the 2022 World Cup and he didn’t return to the fold for four months, during which time he was badly missed.
Jota: Liverpool’s Forgotten Asset
Granted, he endured a goal drought either side of his injury – it was hugely overblown and he still contributed positively – but once that ended away to Leeds in April, he scored seven times in the remainder of the campaign, including a dramatic winner against Tottenham.
This summer, much of the conversation is about who should lead the line for Liverpool out of Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez, with the pair completely different players but equally exciting options.
Meanwhile, Diaz and Salah look the most likely to take up the starting berth out wide – Ben Doak is starting to look like a genuine option, too – and it has almost left Jota as something of a forgotten man.
Jota: A Priceless Player for Liverpool
That’s not to say that the 26-year-old isn’t highly rated or adored by many Liverpool supporters, but there is almost an assumption that he will play a squad role, coming on as a brilliant substitute and struggling to force his way into the strongest XI. Jota is a priceless player for the Reds, though, and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be right in the conversation with Gakpo and Nunez, threatening to be Jurgen Klopp’s go-to option centrally.
A tireless presser and brilliant team player, the former Wolves man is also arguably Liverpool’s most clinical finisher, having racked up a tally of 41 goals in 113 appearances, only 73 of which have been starts. Salah is more prolific, of course, and one of the world’s best players, but who would you back most if a last-minute chance came their way?
Liverpool’s No.20 already has three goals to his name in pre-season and has looked sharp in his all-round game, and if he can avoid injury this time around, he is going to be such a massive player for the Reds in 2023/24.
Liverpool’s Bountiful Attack
It remains to be seen who Klopp ultimately opts to start most regularly in his attack, but one thing that is undeniable is that Liverpool have five wonderful options to choose from. Rotation will also play a part, so there should be lots of playing time for all. Jota may not have the subtle, silky style of Gakpo, or the blistering pace and physicality of Nunez, but he is a superb footballer in his own right – one who can play an enormous role in the Reds shaking off last season’s woes and excelling in the ‘Klopp 2.0’ era at Anfield.
Let’s face it, last year would have been far better if he had been around more.