Noel Whelan has suggested that Diogo Jota has been so critical for Liverpool this term that he’s almost rendered Bobby Firmino ‘obsolete’.
The former Wolves hitman does appear to have uprooted the Brazilian with his performances of late, often reducing the No.9 to cameo appearances from the bench.
“He’s got a real understanding and intelligence which allows him to get in between defenders and finish these chances,” the former Leeds United man told Football Insider.
“He knows he can’t compete one-on-one for a header, so he’s adapting and using his footballing brain to get himself in the right areas.
“He’s such a clever player, he’s become a huge one. He hit the ground running when he came into Liverpool, and he’s almost made Roberto Firmino obsolete with the pressure he’s put on him.
“Not only that, but he stepped up when Mane and Salah were away at the African Cup of Nations, too. He’s a great player to have in your side.”
The Portuguese international has enjoyed a stellar campaign with Jurgen Klopp’s men this year, registering 20 goals in 41 appearances (across all competitions) – his best return in a season yet.
It’s worth emphasising the reality that the 30-year-old is far from being ‘obsolete’, with the ex-Hoffenheim star having played a more than pivotal role when called upon.
This is perhaps best demonstrated by the attacker’s involvement in the 2-0 Round of 16 first leg win at the San Siro back in mid-February, not to mention his steadying-of-the-ship outing most recently in Lisbon.
If anything, competition from Jota appears to be getting the best out of a footballer who used to be one of the first names on the teamsheet for Klopp.