Diogo Jota’s stunning early form for Liverpool has come as a “great satisfaction” to Portuguese football, says Benfica manager Jorge Jesus.
Jota, 23, has scored seven goals in his first 10 appearances for the Reds since completing a £45million move from Wolves in the summer, including a hat-trick away at Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
The Portugal international has left Jurgen Klopp with a selection headache at Anfield, with some fans now calling for him to replace Roberto Firmino at the pinpoint of their attack on a permanent basis.
And Jesus has heaped praise on Jota for giving Klopp that dilemma, insisting it shows Portugal are “at the level of the best in the world”.
“Jota started from nothing, didn’t start with the big ones and sometimes those who start in the big ones have the advantage of getting to the top faster, but that doesn’t mean they go further,” the Benfica boss told Portuguese outlet O Jogo.
“Jota started in teams with less value until he got there where he arrived.
“Last year he was a surprise in the English league and now he reached the top of the England teams, the best team in the world. I was one of their victims, I lost the Club World Cup.
“To be a player with a very big expression at Liverpool, you have to be very valuable, because when you get there you have Salah, Firmino and Mané…
“This is good for Portuguese football, for the national team, for Fernando Santos, we are at the level of the best in the world.
“Outside of Europe, there are only Argentina and Brazil to compete. It’s a great satisfaction.”
While several Liverpool fans are desperate to see Jota unleashed in this weekend’s crunch clash with title rivals Manchester City, club legend John Barnes believes Firmino remains the better option.
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“Jota scored a hat-trick, but that doesn’t mean he automatically goes into the team against Man City. I think who plays depends on what the games are and who they’re against and how that team plays,” he told talkSPORT.
“Against Man City, where you’re not going to have as much possession, maybe Firmino will be a better bet. You need a player like Bobby Firmino to not only get hold of the ball but also do his defensive work.”