Diogo Jota is on fire at the moment but that’s getting in the way of a teammate. Takumi Minamino is finding himself out of place.
Diogo Jota scored against on Saturday as Liverpool drew 1-1 away at Brighton. The 24-year-old’s goal was another great one, too, as he danced along the edge of the box and calmly slotted home.
That was Jota’s ninth goal of the season and his eighth in his last eight games. He’s exploded at Liverpool, quickly becoming one of the team’s most important players.
In fact, he’s done the impossible and altered Liverpool’s world-class attack. The ‘usual front three’ is no more – Jota is a regular option.
But the rise of Jota isn’t good news for one teammate. Takumi Minamino doesn’t seem to have a place.
Out of place
Minamino looked like the potential breakout star this season. His goal in the Community Shield suggested as much.
He came on as a substitute to form a front-four, looked likely, and scored. We wrote a few pieces back then about how a front-four could become a thing, with Minamino forming the quartet.
That, however, was before Jota arrived. We didn’t see him arriving, let alone playing as well as he is.
Jota is now firmly in that attack but it’s at Minamino’s expense. Brighton away was a fine example.
Minamino started – his first for a while – but played in centre-midfield. That’s not his natural position, as we saw.
The £7m signing did the offensive things well enough. He completed passes, completed a dribble, and got a shot off on goal. All decent in midfield.
But defensively, he was a liability. Brighton dribbled past him four times – for comparison, Gini Wijnaldum suffered that just once, James Milner not at all.
Minamino also didn’t win a tackle or make an interception. Brighton tackled him three times, too – the most in the Liverpool side.
He’s just not a midfielder. But unfortunately, Minamino now has to settle for games like this as he’s highly unlikely to get regular games in the attack.
Jota has pushed him back in the pecking order. And in the form the Portuguese is in, it’s tough to see him giving up his place anytime soon.