Some teams have traditional strikers, target men and poachers with a narrow and clearly defined job. Others have creative tens tasked with playmaking and wingers who hug the touchline and whip in crosses.
Liverpool ask their forwards to do a little bit of any and everything at a high level—and to put in a defensive shift on top of it—and in his second season with the Reds, Diogo Jota has proven he can indeed do it all as an attacker.
Jota, who has 14 goals and a pair of assists so far this season, has looked increasingly comfortable as a regular piece in Liverpool’s dominant attack, and he cites a still young career spent changing positions for that.
“At the start I played as a left midfielder in a 4-3-3,” Jota said in a conversation with the club’s official website this week. “Then as my physicality developed, I started arriving in the box more often and scoring goals.
“Then I went basically to a number ten position. People started thinking, ‘Oh, this guy can score goals, so put him up front.’ That was basically how it was. It depends on what the manager asks me to do.”
Jota’s 14 goals so far have come in 28 appearances, seeing him one ahead of last season’s tally in Red with two fewer games played and four behind his career high—in 2017-18 in the Championship—while having played 18 games less.
His passing game and link-up play has also noticeably improved, even if his assist tally has so far lagged behind rising expected assists and key passes numbers that hint at an increasingly well-rounded game.
“I try to adapt and I think that’s one of my main characteristics,” the 25-year-old Portuguese goal attacking star added. “I don’t force anyone to adapt to me—I try to adapt to whatever is required and do my best.
“Maybe some people will say I’m not a proper false nine or not a nine, whereas some others like it. But whenever I’m on the pitch I aim to get goals and get the team reaching the opponent’s goal. That’s what I try to do.”