Darren Bent has claimed that Liverpool’s ‘forgotten man’ Diogo Jota can help to fill the hole left by Sadio Mane’s departure.
Speaking to TalkSPORT, Bent said that Mane was too good to be replaced by one player alone. However, a combination of Liverpool’s forwards, including Jota, could do the trick.
“I don’t think you can replace him straight away just man-for-man because I think he’s too good,” said the former Enfland striker.
“But if (Luis) Diaz gets his numbers up in terms of goals and assists and Jota’s scoring goals… He was kind of the forgotten man towards the end of last season but he stepped in and was brilliant. Diaz, Firmino’s still there and obviously Salah speaks for himself, so they’ve still got so many different options in that front three area.”
Jota loses his way
Jota’s game-time did fall away towards the end of last season as Diaz, Mane and Salah become Jurgen Klopp’s go-to front line.
The Portuguese wasn’t blameless in that, though. His form dropped off sharply after picking up an injury against Inter Milan in February.
Jota went from looking like he may hit the back of the net in every game, to appearing a little lost on the pitch.
Hopefully the break over the summer will do him good. When he’s on form, he’s one of the best poachers in the Premier League.
Matching up to Mane
Up until Mane’s remarkable turnaround after winning AFCON with Senegal, Jota was comfortably scoring more than his teammate.
Even with a steep drop-off for him and an upturn for Mane, he still finished the season with just two goals less than the 30-year-old.
In that respect, he isn’t too much of a stretch to say that Jota can in fact replace Mane. Certainly between him, Diaz and Darwin Nunez, Liverpool have more than enough firepower to see them challenge once again.
The ‘forgotten man’ tag for Jota does feel quite apt, though. Having broken his way into Liverpool’s ‘original’ front-three, he is now likely to find himself back on the periphery, despite his goal record.
You simply don’t spend £64m on a striker unless you plan on him being a part of your first eleven. With the impact of Diaz and Salah’s un-droppable status, Jota will have to prove himself all over again.