A starting price of £6.5m for a midfielder who plays for a club newly promoted to the Premier League is an eyebrow-raiser.
But then, Diogo Jota – who has UEFA Champions League experience and 14 Portugal under-21 caps to his name – is no ordinary, Championship-level midfield workhorse and Wolverhampton Wanderers are no naive top-flight rookies.
While survival will be the primary target for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side next season, the West Midlands club has significant financial resources, access to a well-connected super-agent, an intelligent head coach and a gifted young squad that should see them hold their own in the Premier League.
Jota was one of six astute loan signings made by Santo last season (including centre-half Willy Boly and striker Leo Bonatini), all of whom played a part in Wolves’ promotion-winning campaign.
The 21-year-old attacking midfielder’s contribution was as important as any Wolves player’s in 2017/18, with Jota finishing as the Championship winners’ leading goal-scorer on 17 league goals.
Jota has made his move to Molineux permanent over the summer, the deal having been agreed with parent club Atletico Madrid in January.
While fellow Portuguese star Ruben Neves (£5.0m) – sitting in over 15% of Fantasy Premier League squads – is the most popular Wolves asset in FPL at this early stage, Jota has also attracted significant investment – his ownership of 8.1% is higher than that of Theo Walcott, Richarlison and Cesc Fabregas, among others, in the same price band.
Having spent his formative years with Gondomar SC and Pacos Ferreira, Jota began his senior career with the latter club in 2014/15.
Scoring one goal and assisting another on his debut in Pacos’ 4-0 cup win over Atletico SC Reguengos, Jota then went on to make ten league appearances for the Primeira Liga side, scoring on a further two occasions.
An excellent 2015/16 season in which he scored 12 Portuguese top-flight goals led to a move to Atletico Madrid, but the young attacking midfielder was not to make a solitary appearance for the Spanish giants.
A season-long loan with Porto in 2016/17 saw Jota in and out of the first team, with 12 of his 27 league appearances coming as a substitute. The youngster was on the scoresheet on eight occasions, three of which came in the 4-0 win over Nacional early in the season.
Jota’s first taste of Champions League action peaked with a goal in the 5-0 win over Leicester City in December of that campaign.
That Wolves were able to convince the young Portuguese midfielder to move to a side playing in the English second tier in the summer of 2017 demonstrated the club’s financial muscle and ambition.
As well as scoring on 17 occasions, Jota registered five assists across Wolves’ promotion-winning campaign.
Playing much of last season on the left of a front three in Santo’s unwavering 3-4-3 formation, Jota has also, on occasion, been deployed as the spearhead in the Wolves attack.
Jota indeed started as the nominated “centre-forward” in Wolves’ 1-1 friendly draw with Ajax, with fellow Portuguese wingers Helder Costa and Diego Cavaleiro flanking him.
It remains to be seen in which position Jota starts the season and all eyes will be on Wolves’ remaining four pre-season friendlies to ascertain further clues. Jota certainly has competition up top: Mexican striker Raul Jimenez has arrived from parent club Benfica on a season-long deal, while Wolves have made Leo Bonatini’s loan move a permanent one over the summer.
Bonatini scored on 12 occasions in 2017/18 but all of his goals came in the first half of the season, with the Brazilian striker subsequently enduring a five-month barren spell and losing his place in the side.
Santo may, meanwhile, decide to gradually ease Jimenez into English football following his loan move. The Mexico international is far from guaranteed to plunder league goals: in four seasons with Atletico Madrid and Benfica, Jimenez has not hit double figures once.
Jimenez’s physicality and ability to bring his team-mates into play may ultimately see him lead the line, but Jota is a goal threat in whichever position he plays. The Portuguese midfielder, indeed, scored in the 2-1 win over Basel on July 10 while drifting in from the left flank.
Jota’s total of 120 goal attempts last season was unsurpassed by any other Wolves player (only Brentford’s Ollie Watkins had more in the Championship), as was his minutes-per-shot average of 30.3.
Eighty-three of Jota’s 120 shots were from inside the opposition penalty area; those tempted by Ruben Neves’ budget price should note that the £5.0m-rated midfielder only had three efforts on goal from inside the box.
Jota also edged his compatriot in terms of creativity, producing 53 key passes to Neves’ 37.
Appearing in 44 of Wolves’ 46 league matches last season, Jota looks like a fairly nailed pick this time out – something that can’t be said for several other midfielders in the £6.5m price bracket (Juan Mata, Pedro, Cesc Fabregas, Erik Lamela etc).
Wolves face only two of last season’s top six sides in the first ten Gameweeks, a run of fixtures that includes home matches against Everton, Burnley, Southampton and Watford.
Whilst spending £6.5m on a midfielder playing for a newly promoted side constitutes something of a “punt”, this is a Wolves squad with a wealth of international and European experience to their name. The step up to the Premier League should be far less daunting for Jota and co than it will be for the average top-flight new boys.
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