For all the clamour about Liverpool’s injuries at the back, it’s the absence of Diogo Jota that has been felt equally as hard.
The Portuguese summer signing made a blistering start to his Anfield career but hasn’t featured since early December because of injury.
With Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino struggling for form, Jurgen Klopp has had little alternative but to play them, with Liverpool’s supporting case not meeting the required expectations without Jota.
Jamie Carragher believes the absence of Liverpool’s £40milliom summer signing has plenty to do with the club’s struggles in front of goal since the turn of the year.
“I think Diogo Jota has been a huge miss for Liverpool,” Carragher told Sky Sports.
“You look at the manager and the team he picks at certain times. The fact he [Jota] played in a dead-rubber in the Champions League and there is frustration he got injured in that game.
“Liverpool wrapped the Champions League up early and then lose one of their key players in a game that didn’t matter too much.
“They also played a very strong team against Aston Villa’s youth team.”
The arrivals of Jota and Thiago Alcantara got pulses raising at Anfield in what was expected to be a quiet summer.
Liverpool played down expectations of any marquee arrivals, only to tie up £70million worth of business in the space of a few days.
“The signings of Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota were big moves because it signalled intent,” Gary Neville told Sky Sports, back in September.
“They needed to strengthen in midfield with somebody who can play, control the game and do something a little bit different to the rest of them.
“And then Jota up front, who provides a real quality back up to the front three, but doesn’t unnerve them to the point where they want to leave. It was a clever signing.”
Jota’s instant impact impressed the wider media, with Rio Ferdinand wowed by the former Wolves man’s start to life at the reigning champions.
“You’ve got to give time up for this man, Diogo Jota has come in and four goals in his first four starts for Liverpool [in the Premier League],” Ferdinand said on Rio Ferdinand presents FIVE, back in November.
“The recruitment at Liverpool, what they’ve done to get him so far what he’s producing is fully justified.
“Not many people were sitting there going, ‘let’s get Jota’ but what he’s saying to Klopp is, ‘you can’t afford to drop me, I’m banging in goals week in week out.’
Get all the latest Liverpool breaking news, team news, transfer rumours, injury updates plus analysis of what’s next for the Reds.
You’ll also get the latest transfer talk and analysis straight to your inbox every day with our FREE email newsletter.
Sign up here – it only takes a few seconds!
“That’s what you want at a top club, you want players coming in and having an impact immediately, saying to other players, ‘yeah you guys are great, I watched you last season, but I’m here to raise the bar.’
“That’s what he seems to be doing. He’s been nothing short of a phenomenal signing.”