Going by CIES Football Observatory’s latest figures, Diogo Jota is Liverpool’s fourth most valuable player behind Curtis Jones, Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Signed a year ago for a deal worth up to £45million, with just £5m paid so far and another £12m due this summer, Jota’s worth has jumped up after a strong debut campaign at Anfield.
Many felt Liverpool paid over the odds for Jota 12 months ago but after his first season at the club, in which he scored 13 goals in 30 appearances (though having totalled 1,763 minutes, Jota effectively only played 19.5 full matches), such suggestions have disappeared completely.
The question now is not about Jota’s worth but about whether he should be starting over any of the established front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino at the start of next season.
Football research group CIES estimate Jota’s current transfer value at £57m, a figure that will only continue to increase if the Portugal international can maintain his impressive performances for the Merseyside outfit and for his country at Euro 2020.
With yet another successful signing in the book, Liverpool sporting director Michael Edwards may be tasked with unearthing another mid-level forward to Jurgen Klopp’s squad this summer who can go on to huge success at Anfield, with Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri expected to depart.
Express Sport looks at three options who could come in at Liverpool to not only emulate Jota’s impact but eventually follow the likes of Salah and Mane by making the jump into the world-class bracket.
There’s been plenty of speculation in recent months saying that Liverpool are keen on Leeds United’s Raphinha and it’s pretty easy to see why after his first season with the Whites.
The exciting Brazilian, signed for £17m from Rennes last year, profiles similarly to Mane at Southampton before he joined Liverpool and contributed six goals and nine assists in 30 Premier League matches for Leeds.
A predominantly right-sided winger who can also play on the left, the left-footed wide-man is an explosive talent who ticks all the boxes data-wise offensively and contributes defensively too. He is still only 24 too.
The fact he’s had a year of Premier League experience puts another big tick next to the South American’s name given Liverpool’s preference for such players. See here: Jota, Salah, Mane, Xherdan Shaqiri, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gini Wijnaldum all since 2016.
Raphinha would command a fee of a minimum of £40m but there’s a possibility Liverpool could look to include the Leeds-linked Harry Wilson in a player-plus-cash deal to bring down that amount somewhat.
But the Yorkshire outfit would drive a hard bargain given they aren’t under financial pressure to sell and Raphinha is thought to be happy under Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road. It’d be a tough deal to negotiate, but one surely worth doing in the long term.
Klopp wanted Brandt at Anfield in 2017 but signed Salah instead, with some claims stating that Edwards stepped in and urged Klopp to sign off on the arrival of the Egyptian instead.
Brandt by contrast suggested he was the reason the move never happened, saying: “My gut feeling and my head are telling me the time to move has not arrived yet. I have to straighten things out in Leverkusen.”
Whatever the truth, the Liverpool manager will undoubtedly remain a fan of his Arsenal-linked fellow German, who swapped Bayer Leverkusen for Klopp’s former club Borussia Dortmund in 2019.
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He has since contributed 11 goals and 15 assists in 87 matches at the Westfalenstadion, despite having contributed 10 goals and 17 assists in 43 games in his final year at Leverkusen alone.
The versatile 25-year-old can play on the left wing, the right wing, as a centre-forward or as a central midfielder or attacking midfielder. But Ruhr Nachrichten say Dortmund are willing to part ways with him.
And CIES reckon Brandt’s estimated value is somewhere between £25.7m (€30m) and £34.3m (€40m). Even the top end of that amount would make him an affordable addition for Klopp, and the quality of the player suggests he could soon outperform that price tag.
Given his skillset, ability to operate in multiple positions and the fact he’s still to come into his peak years, there’s plenty of reasons to see why Klopp might revisit his interest in the 35-cap German international.
The youngest player on the list, Neto only turned 21 in March but the left-sided winger – who can also play on the right or centrally – was Wolves’ shining light in a difficult campaign.
The Portuguese was only in his second campaign at Molineux since signing from Braga but contributed five goals and six assists in 31 league games after three goals and three assists in 29 the previous year.
Just like Raphinha, Neto is left-footed, explosive on the ball and puts in the hard yards defensively, and has the right attributes to grow into a world-class winger.
The three-cap Portugal international was sadly ruled out of Euro 2020 by a knee injury which required surgery but would surely have been taken alongside the likes of Jota, Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes.
Neto, who was named Players’ Player of the Season at Wolves after a stand-out campaign, would surely cost around £40m at least, similarly to Raphinha.
It might be even more difficult to negotiate with Wolves given the fact the agreement the Midlands club may feel that they should have demanded more for Jota, and could demand a premium on Neto as a result. Yet it’s hard to see the player not going on to justify a big price.