Diogo Jota 19 Striker Porto Portugal
Diogo Jota, a Porto native, ended 2015 just seven months into a five-year contract at Paços Ferreira. He’d joined Porto-based Paços as a youth player in 2013, and made his senior debut late in 2014. The following February he made his first appearance in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, and went on to start eight league games in 2014/15, scoring twice in the penultimate game.
2016 has been…
The year that made Diogo Jota. His exploits in the second half of 2015 attracted attention from multiple suitors, and by March he’d reportedly rejected a switch to Benfica to sign for Atlético Madrid. It has since been reported that Paços sold 40% of Jota’s rights around the turn of the new year, but the portion they retained until the end of the 2015/16 didn’t let them down.
Jota’s contribution to Paços’ seventh-placed finish was enormous. He started all 31 league games he was available for, missing one through injury, one for a red card suspension and one for yellow card accumulation. The match in which he picked up the aforementioned injury was the only time he was substituted in the 90 minutes. He scored twelve goals and made eight more, a stunning return for a teenager playing at the highest level in Portugal.
In August, his new club sent Jota – a Jorge Mendes player, for the record – on loan to Porto. He started with a minor injury, sat on the bench twice and then his season exploded into life with a first-half hat-trick against Nacional in October. He created two goals in the next game, against Arouca, and scored a cracker against Benfica in November. His impressive numbers continue, and he’s now a 19-year-old who starts games in the UEFA Champions League.
Jota is the kind of player modern football loves. He’s a left-sided forward who floats around the front line just looking to make things happen, and can be find right in the middle when someone else is looking to deliver. He knows to attack across the near post instinctively.
He’s a wonderfully smart mover who makes great runs and spends matches just peeling away and creating space for himself, the knack that enabled his goal against Benfica recently. In the second half of that game he was nigh-on unplayable.
He’s brilliant at finding space in general. His first touch is good and he’s got a powerful left peg, a lovely eye for a creative pass and an absolutely lethal drop of the shoulder. Jota isn’t just exciting. He’s a party player. He’s a teenager made for teenagers, and in that sense he’s ultra-modern.
Onwards and upwards. Jota will see out 2016/17 at Porto and he only really needs to continue his 2016 form to keep his parent club interested. An Atléti debut next year would be a fabulous recognition of his progress since becoming a professional, and he’s capable of winning it on merit.
International honours won’t be too far away. Jota has played at various youth levels for Portugal, always a couple of levels above his age. He’s yet to be called up for the senior side but it’s going to happen for him, without a shadow of a doubt. When you consider the talent available to Portugal in his position, that’s quite a thing to be confident about.
B Not the last we’ve heard of Diogo Jota
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