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Liverpool can finally draw $45m weapon as Diogo Jota returns and creates new Jürgen Klopp tool



After months on the sidelines injured, Diogo Jota is back in full training for Liverpool and could unlock one of Cody Gakpo’s hidden strengths.

Diogo Jota has proved quite a striking package since arriving in Merseyside in the summer of 2020. The Portuguese was signed by Wolves from mid-table, with many Reds supporters initially expecting him to be a rotation option for the trio offensive by Jürgen Klopp.

Jota had the task of breaking that trident formed by Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, and it wasn’t long before he did it, often forcing his boss to select a front four instead of a three. He was quick, decisive, direct and energetic, and he proved perfect at Anfield. Perhaps the most shocking thing about Jota’s game was his remarkable ability to head the ball despite his size. At just 1.78m tall, he doesn’t look like an aerial target at first glance, but has proven to be exceptionally strong when battling for balls in the air.

In fact, just under 30% of his Premier League goals for the Reds have come from his head, compared to 42% from his favored right foot. The 26-year-old can jump higher than many of his peers and the precision and power he can muster is very impressive.

Klopp hasn’t capitalized on Jota’s unique threat since suffering an unfortunate injury against Manchester City in October, but fans will be happy to hear he returned to full training this week and joined his squad. teammates on the lawns on Wednesday. Liverpool have a local derby against Everton soon, and while that game may come too soon for Jota, he could be aiming to return next weekend for his side’s high-profile match against Newcastle United.

One player who should be happier than most with Jota’s return to action is new signing Cody Gakpo. The Dutch international, who joined from PSV Eindhoven last month, is yet to score a goal or assist in a red shirt, despite his good record at home prior to his transfer.

Gakpo, who signed for an initial fee of $45m (£37m/€42m) in January, has recorded 24 league assists over the past 18 months, many of which have come from a concealed weapon. He’s got plenty of attacking skills, but after examining his play, Liverpool’s latest signing has an unorthodox crossover characteristic to his profile. It is regularly used on the left and – being right-handed – tends to cut inwards often. However, instead of shooting every time, Gakpo sometimes chooses to hit tricky crosses in the direction Jota would normally be, around the five-yard box and the back post.

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The Dutchman’s batting crosses are often subtle and precise, almost as if he had hit the ball with a golden club rather than his foot. Once Jota’s presence in the box is restored in the coming weeks, Gakpo will have a target to target.

Over the past month, Liverpool’s attack has suffered a dip as Klopp has prioritized fixing his leaky defence. With Jota back in the squad, the Reds should regain their firepower in the final third.