A mere 42 days have passed since Diogo Jota was announced as a Liverpool player, yet the livewire forward has already made a significant impact. However, by his own admission, he's not wholly satisfied.
The 23-year-old’s stats are clearly impressive to date: eight appearances, four starts and three goals, including a strike on his Premier League debut for the Reds against Arsenal at Anfield.
But those numbers don’t paint the whole picture of Jota’s first month-and-a-half on Merseyside, with his high-energy displays as part of the team’s forward line winning acclaim from his teammates, fans and pundits alike. And also his new manager.
Oh, and he scored the club’s 10,000th goal in its history against FC Midtjylland in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Ahead of Liverpool’s latest outing – a teatime home fixture with West Ham United on Saturday – Jota sat down with Liverpoolfc.com to look back over his first few weeks with the club, during which he detailed why he believes he’s capable of raising his performance levels even higher as he continues to adjust to his new surroundings.
Read on for our exclusive interview with the Portugal attacker…
Diogo, firstly, it’s just over a month since you joined the club. It’s not been too bad so far, has it?
[Laughs] Well… I think it has been a great month for me, not only because I signed but everything else that has happened. I have been able to help the team, which has been my biggest desire since I joined. To be able to do that this fast, I am really pleased with it.
What are the reasons behind you being able to make such a quick transition, do you feel?
It is hard to answer. The most important thing is to always believe. Since the first day I was here, the manager spoke with me about things I needed to do. I have tried to focus on that because obviously when you change teams there are a lot of things you need to adapt to. Of course, getting to know every player is also important so you can have chemistry on the field.
Great moment to score the club's 10000th goal 🤯 and another win 💪⚽️ https://t.co/oueL5go5HQ— DiogoJota18 (Diogo Jota) 28th Oct 11:02
“A pressing monster” is how Pep Lijnders described you… what’s your reaction to that?
Well, I know what he means by that. I also understand it like a message to me because I knew that this [pressing] is a characteristic of Liverpool’s game. I always try to see it like messages that we need to understand and to put onto the playing field.
Watching you, it feels like you’ve played here for a long time already… is that how it feels for you?
I know I am far away from that natural feeling because, like I said, there are a lot of different players and it’s a different team, so I need to adapt. I think we can play much better, including myself, during games.
How have you found the quality of your teammates in training?
That’s a massive difference; the quality every single player has at this club. When we do rondos, possession or finishing, everybody has immense quality. I think that is the characteristic of Liverpool, so everyone is ready to make a difference.
What have you learned about Liverpool as a club since you came in?
I think I was not used to everything that is happening in the club. Here, there are a lot of staff that are glad to help you in whichever way they can. Outside of the field, I think that is mainly the biggest surprise for me because here we have people to help us with everything. And on the pitch as well because they have such good quality, so everything is easier. We just need to be ready and be able to play the game.
EVERY. SINGLE. ANGLE. 😍 Enjoy @DiogoJota18's beautiful debut goal... https://t.co/NT58Viw7ep— LFC (Liverpool FC) 28th Sep 23:04
So, you’re feeling settled off the pitch as well as on it?
Yes, I try to do that as quickly as possible – I’ve found a new place to live etcetera. So, I am getting settled to be able to do my best here at the training ground and on matchdays.
What’s been your highlight of your first few weeks at the club?
For myself, of course, I think it was my first goal because I think it is a moment that everyone tries to find when he reaches another club, especially for a striker. That happened almost straight away… and at Anfield! If the fans had been there, the moment would have been perfect.
Jürgen Klopp was speaking about you earlier this week and said you’re very easy to like, not only because of your talent but also because he said you’re a really nice guy as well. What did you think when you heard those words from the boss?
Obviously when I heard those kind of words from a person like him, it made me happy. When I first joined the club, I always tried to do my best on the pitch but also off the pitch. I try to have a good relationship with everyone, so when I heard those words I think I am doing those things well. That’s what I will always try to do.
Have you had a chance to see what the fans have been saying about you on social media? They’re obviously delighted with how quickly you’ve settled in and full of praise for your performances so far...
Well, in terms of social media, I try not to pay that close attention to it. Now, I think we live in a world where everyone can give an easy opinion on social media, so I think the most important thing is to stick to our own minds. We know we work with 20-something players and the staff, so they’re the people we need to impress and to keep on working better and better each time.
Just onto the weekend and West Ham are next up, a side that come here in good form…
Of course. I think they’ve only lost one game in their last six, so they are on a good run. They drew against [Manchester] City in their last game, so we know we have to be at our best to be able to get the three points tomorrow.
The fact they have taken points off Spurs and Man City in their last two games, does that mean they’ll come here and try to take the game to us?
Yes, as I said, in their last six games they’ve only lost one. They have been playing good games as well. They are a team with confidence at the moment, so that’s why it’s going to be hard and why we need to be at our best.
We obviously have some injuries to deal with in defence, but so far we’ve done just that. How much is it about everyone stepping up in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and so on, and not just the player replacing them in the team?
I think it is never good news when you hear somebody is injured, but that is the world of football and when something like that happens, there is an opportunity for another guy to step in and prove his value to be at this club exists. I think it is an opportunity for another guy and as a team we will find solutions for everything that could happen.
Liverpool haven’t lost at home in the Premier League since April 2017. Does that have any impact on the players, can they take confidence from it?
No, I don’t think we can because the moment we do, we are close to losing that stat and the game. I think we need to go for it knowing Anfield is our home and we are there to defend it with everything. I just hope we can keep adding games to that stat!