In a season of struggle for Liverpool, the individual struggles of forward Diogo Jota might well be said to encapsulate the team’s larger issues, with injuries and inconsistency and struggles to find his best form being the story of much of the year so far.
Over the past ten days and two games, though, Jota has scored four goals and been key to wins over Leeds United and Nottingham Forest that have kept the Reds’ faint top four hopes alive, and Jürgen Klopp says it shows that Jota—and perhaps others along with him—are still top players despite the struggles.
“Nothing, really, he just got back up to speed,” said Klopp when asked what had changed for Jota. “He is an exceptional player. Super-smart player, can play really different positions, has a few super-interesting skills for an offensive player.
“He is not the tallest but is an extreme threat in the air, timing is top, can finish with both feet, has speed. Diogo was out with a really bad injury and before that little things here and there, so that kept him a little bit back, nothing else. If Diogo can stay fit he is really an outstanding player.
“He knows how football goes. He is one of these players who could discuss probably the whole day about things in football because he is thinking a lot himself. It makes it really simple to work with him. His only problem was that he got the injury this year.”
It’s a soundbite that could apply to a number players on the team this season, with Liverpool suffering the league’s worst injury rate for the second time in recent seasons following 2020-21’s defensive injury crisis.
None of which will make the struggles of 2022-23 any more enjoyable for anyone, from the players and coaches to the fans, but no matter how the season ends there will be hope now that a break and better luck with fitness will help others to bounce back, too.
“When you are that long injured you need rhythm,” Klopp added. “You need to get back, and that’s the most difficult thing because it’s an ongoing season and nobody wants to wait for you, so it’s really cool that he could score those goals and for us obviously it’s super important.”