Peter Crouch has hailed Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards for insisting on a deal to sign Diogo Jota this summer.
The Portugal forward joined the Reds in September for a fee rising to £45m. Jota has hit the ground running at Anfield, scoring seven goals in nine appearances. That includes a hat-trick in Tuesday’s 5-0 drubbing of Atalanta.
After the match, Jota was left to reflect on his heroics and named the favourite of his three goals.
It also led to Jurgen Klopp having to launch a staunch defence of the man he replaced in the side – Roberto Firmino.
For a long time this summer, Liverpool looked likely to sign Timo Werner. However, the Reds passed up on the deal and allowed Chelsea to swoop in.
At the time, Liverpool insisted financial factors had been behind their decision to overlook the Germany striker.
However, eyebrows were raised when they lavished a similar sum to sign Jota. Cleverly for Liverpool though, they only had to fork out a bargain fee up front.
That decision though appears to have been vindicated by Jota’s incredible start to life at Liverpool.
And pundit Crouch was keen to applaud Liverpool for their thinking after witnessing Jota’s heroics in Bergamo.
Here’s @DiogoJota18’s hattrick goal. It’s a lovely finish. pic.twitter.com/dPtAS96lfp
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 3, 2020
He told BT Sport: “Keita’s come in and not hit the ground running. Keita looks like a top player but Jota’s come in and just took to it straight away.
“He looks like he gets on well with the other two players in there, Firmino as well when he came on.”
Speaking directly about Edwards, who masterminds all Liverpool’s transfer deals, Crouch only had warm words.
“You just have to tip your hat off to the recruitment team because would you say there were many people who were after Jota?
“I wouldn’t say there were people clambering for him.”
Rio Ferdinand chipped in, saying: “I was surprised when his name popped up.”
Crouch continued: “I think if you go through it, Salah was at Roma, Chelsea.
A lovely finish!
Great composure after a classy Trent-Alexander Arnold assist
The Portuguese forward has scored in four consecutive games for Liverpool! pic.twitter.com/a2vKQbuorf
— soccer on BT Sport (@btsportsoccer) November 3, 2020
“Alisson, there wasn’t loads after him. Robertson was €7million from Hull. Wijnaldum, Newcastle. Mane even.
“People said he was overpaid so I think Michael Edwards and all the recruitment team deserve a lot of credit.”
Ferdinand added: “Jota was at Wolves last season, do they play as quick and as aggressive in the way they do at Liverpool.
“And in that I mean in tight spaces, in training especially is where you build your confidence, the balls are coming in at a different pace.
“Different angles, bringing it down, one touch – everything is quicker. Sometimes, even at United when we were flying, you would get players who would come in and think it’s taken them six months to get up to speed.
“Now today I don’t know if players can afford six months. Because by the time six months comes they’ve bought someone else in. It can be difficult. You’ve got to have the quality to raise the bar.”
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Atalanta coach reflects on defeat to Liverpool
Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini admits their defensive problems are a cause for concern.
“We struggled with the pace of the game. Let’s see the next games, we have time to work on ourselves,” he said.
“We are conceding too much lately and scoring less, we didn’t run enough and not well enough – all things we must work on.”
READ MORE: Klopp refuses to take credit for tactical masterclass after Atalanta thumping
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