After Jamie Carragher suggested that Diogo Jota is among Liverpool’s best finishers ever, we took a look at the numbers behind the Reds’ underrated Portuguese forward.

With Mohamed Salah away at the Africa Cup of Nations, everyone – including us – asked where Liverpool’s goals would come from without their star man.

Diogo Jota saw it all and said: “Hold my Super Bock.”

After Liverpool had beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup and Fulham in the EFL Cup without Salah, they faced Bournemouth on Sunday in what was their first Premier League game without the Egyptian since May 2022 when they defeated Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s.

With the score 0-0 at half-time at the Vitality Stadium, thoughts were already heading towards whether this was proof that Liverpool would struggle to find the net without Salah. The second half swiftly removed those concerns as Jürgen Klopp’s men secured a 4-0 win to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points.

Central to that second-half haul was Jota, who set up Darwin Núñez neatly for the first, before two clinical strikes of his own put the game to bed. Núñez added a late fourth, but it was the Portugal international who garnered most of the post-match attention for his contributions.

Bournemouth v Liverpool xG race

For his first strike against Andoni Iraola’s previously in-form side, Jota ran onto a pass from Cody Gakpo down Liverpool’s right before firing first time in off Neto’s near post. His second arrived via a cut-back from Conor Bradley as Jota made a mess of his first effort, before silencing mockery from the Bournemouth fans by slamming his second attempt low into the far corner.

They were both typical Jota finishes, instinctive but with tremendous authority and assuredness.

The 27-year-old told Sky Sports after the win when asked about his finishing: “It’s hard to explain, I try to be in the right place at the right time and that’s why I work.

“This kind of feeling, it just comes natural and that’s why I need to be there to help the team to score goals and make assists.”

Jamie Carragher put forward the idea after the game that Jota might be Liverpool’s most natural finisher of the Premier League era. It was quite the compliment comparing Jota to players such as Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Fernando Torres, Luis Suárez, Daniel Sturridge and Salah.

It’s not an outrageous question, either. Looking at the numbers, plenty of Jota’s stats measure up against those club greats.

It should be pointed out that it’s tricky to judge him against the records of Fowler and Owen because Opta has only collected shot data since 2003-04. However, we can confirm that Fowler averaged a goal every 159 minutes in the Premier League, and Owen found the net on average every 143 minutes. Jota currently edges both with an average of a goal every 141 minutes.

That is behind Suárez (139), Sturridge (136), Salah (132) and Torres (121), though Jota’s shot conversion rate is ahead of each of those four. In fact, since shot data has been available in the Premier League, of players to score 20+ goals for Liverpool, only Divock Origi (20.8%) has a better shot conversion percentage than Jota’s 19.3% (38 goals from 197 total shots).

That puts the former Wolves man ahead of Suárez (12.5%), Sturridge (15.3%), Salah (17.4%), Torres (17.9%) and Sadio Mané (18.6%).

Best shot conversion Liverpool PL

Liverpool’s signing of Jota from Wolves in September 2020 raised a few eyebrows. With Salah, Mané and Roberto Firmino considered to be one of the best attacking trios in world football, adding Jota for a reported fee of up to £45 million came somewhat out of the blue. The Portugal international had impressed at Molineux but was largely overshadowed by Raúl Jiménez, Wolves’ star striker at the time.

Jota scored 16 goals in 67 Premier League games (56 starts) for Wolves before moving to Anfield but had a shot conversion rate of just 12.6%, showing how much he has improved his finishing in a Liverpool shirt.

It wasn’t gradual either; his Premier League shot conversion percentage in his first season went straight up to 19.6% (nine goals from 46 shots), reducing slightly to 16.7% in 2021-22 (15 goals from 90 shots). Last season was disrupted by injury, but he still managed seven goals from 35 shots (20%). He has already matched that goal tally this season (seven goals from 26 shots – 26.9%).

His seven Premier League goals this season have come from an expected goals total (xG) of just 3.27. Of players to have scored at least seven in England’s top flight in 2023-24, none have a lower xG (Chris Wood is the next lowest with eight goals from 5.35 xG). In all competitions, Jota has an even more impressive 11 goals from 5.34 xG.

Not including blocked shots, Jota has scored with seven of his 11 shots on target. As is evident in the graphic below, he has mostly been finding the bottom corners, while his overall goalmouth shot location graphic below that shows how varied his finishing has been.

Jota on target shot map 23-24
Jonny Whitmore / Senior Data Editor
Diogo Jota on-target shot map
Jonny Whitmore / Senior Data Editor

In fact, since arriving at Liverpool, Jota has only underperformed his Premier League xG in one of four seasons when he scored 15 goals from 16.67 xG in 2021-22.

Jota’s signing was somewhat overshadowed back in 2020, coming just 24 hours after the capture of Thiago Alcântara from Bayern Munich. It had come from nowhere, but the club’s data-driven recruitment team had earned the benefit of the doubt. The same people who had helped build a team that won the UEFA Champions League and Premier League had made another recommendation, and it wasn’t long before people saw what they saw.

Jota scored on his Premier League debut for the club, neatly controlling and volleying a finish in at the Kop end in a 3-1 win over Arsenal. An impressive hat-trick at Atalanta in the Champions League soon followed, while he recorded a goal in each of his first four Premier League outings at Anfield (vs Arsenal, Sheffield United, West Ham and Leicester City).

In Liverpool’s busy 2021-22 campaign, winning the EFL Cup and FA Cup, reaching the Champions League final and finishing second in the Premier League with 92 points, Jota scored 21 goals in 55 games (39 starts). One of those goals came in the 2-2 draw at title rivals Manchester City in April 2022. It would be his last for over a year.

Injury in that period didn’t help, but by the time Jota scored his first of two goals in Liverpool’s 6-1 win at Leeds United in April 2023 he had gone 372 days and 32 games without finding the net.

He has been back to his best since then, though, scoring 18 goals in 31 games (18 starts) in all competitions at club level since (and including) his goals at Leeds.

Overall, he has 38 goals in 91 Premier League games for Liverpool (60 starts) and 52 goals in 135 games (86 starts) in all competitions.

Interestingly, both of Jota’s goals at Bournemouth came when he moved over to the right, which proved he can still be deadly on that side despite having hardly ever played there.

The graphic below shows all of his Premier League goals for Liverpool, and the two grouped close together furthest to the right of the penalty area are his strikes against Bournemouth.

Diogo Jota Liverpool goals PL

This season, Jota has been even more lethal than Salah in terms of conversion rate. His 26.2% shot conversion percentage in all competitions is ahead of the Egyptian (21.7%), as well as Cody Gakpo (19.6%), Luis Díaz (13.3%) and Núñez (11%).

Liverpool forwards stats 23-24

His goals are often important ones, too. Of Jota’s 38 Premier League goals, 12 have been opening goals, 12 have been winners, 16 have put Liverpool one goal ahead and six have been equalisers. Of his 14 goals in cup competitions, six have been openers and six have been winners.

It often happens with elite finishers, but Jota doesn’t just score goals; he often does so at crucial times. His dramatic late winner in the 4-3 win over Tottenham at Anfield last season is a good example of his calmness in key moments.

As his celebration of that goal made reference to, Jota is also an accomplished player of EA Sports FC 24 and often makes finishing look as easy as if he had a headset on and a controller in his hands.

Is Diogo Jota Liverpool’s best finisher of the Premier League era? There isn’t a way to state that definitively, but that he’s even in the conversation is something few would have anticipated when he arrived from Wolves in 2020.

Continue to find the net with regularity and help Liverpool to more trophies, and Jota will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the club’s great forwards, placing him among some incredibly esteemed company.

Check out more of Diogo Jota’s output below with our Opta Player Radar comparison tool. You can compare players in seconds with others from Europe’s top-five leagues.

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