One journalist has a possible explanation for Diogo Jota facing Midtjylland in December. The player picked up a serious injury in the game.
We will undoubtedly look back on Jurgen Klopp playing Diogo Jota against Midtjylland as the biggest mistake of the season. It was an awful misstep.
The ‘turning point’ will always be Virgil van Dijk’s injury against Everton. No one except Jordan Pickford could do anything about that one, though.
But Jota against Midtjylland? He didn’t have to play. Liverpool were already through the group stage but Klopp put the Portuguese forward in from the start.
Now, he never expected him to pick up a long-term injury but the chance was always there. The worst-case happened, of course, and Jota wouldn’t play again for nearly three months.
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And that was a period where Liverpool really needed Jota. The forwards all struggled for goals and the Reds tumbled down the table.
His return has only highlighted that. Jota got an assist for the opener against RB Leipzig and the winner against Wolves – he hasn’t even been back two weeks.
All in all, it’s probably the biggest mistake of his Liverpool career. It didn’t need to happen and could ultimately cost the Reds a Champions League spot.
So why did Klopp take that chance? Well, Simon Huges – writing for the Athletic – has a possible explanation.
Money on the mind
Hughes believes Klopp saw the financial benefits of playing Jota. Liverpool had already topped their group but winning a Champions League game is worth a couple millions pounds.
And given the financial struggles at every club this season, Liverpool and Klopp didn’t want to miss out. Hughes mentions how the boss knows these things influence transfer funds.
So Klopp played a relatively strong team – including Jota – in an attempt to win. Not only did Liverpool not win, but they lost Jota until March.
The ultimate slide down the table means Liverpool stand to lose quite a bit from that decision. They’d undoubtedly by higher up if Jota had been available.
Not that Klopp was to see that coming. This was just an unfortunate incident in a strange season where money is tight. And honestly, we completely understand his decision.