Has Diogo Jota become Liverpool’s most underrated player?

At any point in Liverpool’s history, there always seems to be that one player who can feel underrated, and who doesn’t always receive the adoration they deserve.

Much of this can come down to personal preference, of course, but it’s hard not to instantly think of the likes of Ronnie Whelan and Gini Wijnaldum throughout history and make a fair case for saying they were unsung heroes a lot of the time.

So who is that figure in this current Liverpool squad?

That accolade may well go to Diogo Jota, who is quietly enjoying a very effective season in the Reds’ attack, despite many others receiving praise before him.

Virgil van Dijk is back to his imperious best, for example, and deserves all of the love coming his way, while Mohamed Salah continues to produce end product at a startling rate, edging towards 200 Liverpool goals.

Meanwhile, Dominik Szoboszlai has become a new favourite after some stunning midfield performances since arriving from RB Leipzig in the summer, while Darwin Nunez is adored by the masses even when he does something unfathomable.

That’s just a few of the players who get spoken about more than Jota, but you could throw many other names into the mix as well, from Trent Alexander-Arnold to Andy Robertson to Luis Diaz.

When you look at the impact the Portuguese is having this season, though, you could be forgiven for wondering why he isn’t being lauded far more, having played a big role in Liverpool only being one point adrift of Man City after 12 matches.

In Sunday’s 3-0 win over Brentford, the 26-year-old was one of the Merseysiders' star men, not only finding the net in style but impressing with his ability on and off the ball.

READ MORE: Liverpool 3-0 Brentford – Player Ratings

He played two key passes, won four of his six ground duels, and also made one interception and clearance apiece, helping his side comprehensively outplay a dangerous Bees side.

As for Jota’s goal, it once again highlighted what a ruthless finisher he is, as he effortlessly buried a strike from distance to officially put the game to bed.

For all of Salah’s world-class brilliance and Nunez’s eye for the spectacular, there is a strong argument to say that their fellow attacker is the best finisher at the club.

Would you really want a big chance to fall to any other Liverpool player in front of goal in the last minute of a match?

KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - Wednesday, July 19, 2023: Liverpool's Diogo Jota during a pre-season friendly match between Karlsruher SC and Liverpool FC at the Wildparkstadion. Liverpool won 4-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s now eight goals for the season for Jota, in all competitions - only Salah’s tally of 12 is higher for the Reds to date - and they have come in just 10 starts.

Sure, some cynics may point to the fact that a fair chunk of those strikes have come when matches are already effectively dead and buried, but you still have to be there to find the net, and it will forever be one of the hardest jobs in football.

So what is it that makes Jota underrated? Why does he seem to go under the radar a lot of the time?

Part of the reason could be that the Portugal international isn’t always necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing footballer around, with his first touch not as crisp as others, and his overall style more bustling than elegant.

He may not have the genius of Salah, the skill of Diaz, the pace and power of Nunez or the deft touch of Cody Gakpo, but he is still very effective in everything he does, including his pressing off the ball.

READ MORE: Diogo Jota – the numbers behind Liverpool's constant threat's fine season

On a bad day, Jota can be a tough watch, with balls bouncing off him, dribbles heading nowhere and the balance of Liverpool’s attack sometimes affected with him in it.

He is also a streaky player - something that some Wolves supporters warned us about when he joined back in 2020 - often going through good goalscoring runs before a barren spell comes his way.

For all of these shortcomings, though, any of which arguably may sound too harsh, the positives easily outweigh the negatives with Jota, who has contributed so much in the past three years.

As mentioned, his finishing is as precise and nerveless as anyone else that Jurgen Klopp can call upon - his last-gasp winner at home to Tottenham last season was a great example of that - and he has a competitive, never-say-die edge to his game that makes him an awkward customer for opposing sides.

Is Jota a guaranteed starter for Liverpool when everyone is fit and firing? Probably not.

Salah, Diaz and Nunez would likely be Klopp’s go-to trio in a big game, in terms of the balance they would bring, but the former Wolves ace is a fantastic squad option.

He always has been, in truth, with a total of 49 goals in 129 appearances coming his way, only 82 of which have been starts.

If Liverpool are to go all the way in the Premier League title race this season, Jota’s influence is going to be crucial, and he is someone who may only be truly appreciated when he isn’t available.

Last year was a perfect example of that, with the Reds toiling badly throughout the campaign and not having him to call upon for much of it, following a bad injury suffered in the autumn.

Jota deserves to be adored far more than he is, even though he could be content with going under the radar, and he may well have been Liverpool’s second-best attacking player in 2023/24 to date.

Next up for Klopp’s men after the international break is a trip to City for an enormous Premier League clash, and it would be just like Jota to have a big say at the Etihad.

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