Former England defender Micah Richards believes new Liverpool signing Diogo Jota is “too good to be on the bench,” but should play alongside Roberto Firmino – not replace him in the starting XI.
The Portugal international has hit the ground running at Anfield, bagging four goals in seven games in the Premier League and Champions League.
Speaking after Jota scored the late match-winner in the Reds’ 2-1 win against West Ham at Anfield over the weekend, Richards believes the forward must now start regularly.
“You’ve got Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum in midfield, quite similar: work hard, can pass the ball. I’d be tempted to throw [Jota] in the midfield role, or drop Firmino back and play [Jota] out on the wing,” he told Sky Sports.
“He’s got that technical ability, he can find a pass. I watched him a load at Wolves, even in the Championship before he came to the Premier League, thinking, ‘can he step up?’. He showed he can do that at Wolves. And now he’s playing with even better players.
“I wouldn’t be too hasty in trying to get Firmino out of the team because he’s done an exceptional job for the way Liverpool want to play. I’m talking about putting Jota in that hole, there’s space in there for him. He’s too good to be on the bench. But it’s just finding that right spot for him.”
Richards raises a good point – could we fit Jota into the team alongside Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah? And the answer is quite simply ‘yes.’
While all four are yet to start a game together, we’ve already seen how well they work with one-another.
Jota has been utilised in a number of roles already in his early Liverpool career, showing versatility on the left and right wings while also operating fluidly between the false-nine and centre-forward roles.
From what we’ve seen so far, a front three of Salah, Mane and Jota would work excellently for 90 minutes and Firmino operating as a No.10 could really get things going up top.