Diogo Jota on squad seniority, injury recovery, Asia support and more

InterviewDiogo Jota on squad seniority, injury recovery, Asia support and more

Published 11th July 2022
By Sam Williams in Bangkok

Diogo Jota feels ready to fulfil the role of a senior player in Liverpool's squad as he prepares for his third season with the club.

The Portugal international began training ahead of 2022-23 in Thailand on Sunday evening following a summer break that was affected by a hamstring injury picked up on international duty in June.

And Jota, who is closing in on a return to full team training, wants to step up in the coming campaign following the departures of Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino.

“Well, that’s a good point,” the 25-year-old told Liverpoolfc.com, when asked if he now considers himself a more senior option among Jürgen Klopp’s forwards.

“Obviously those [three] departed and only one arrived – well, Fabio [Carvalho] as well but I’m not sure where he is going to play yet. Of course, with the years you add extra responsibility. 

“Yesterday in the rondo, I am not in the middle anymore when we start so time is passing as well, I am getting older! 

“Of course that allows me to be one of the senior players, with that comes extra responsibility as well but I think that I am ready for that.”

During our interview at the team hotel in Bangkok, Jota also elaborated on his injury recovery, gave his first impressions of visiting Asia as a Liverpool player, outlined his aims for the new season and offered his assessment of new signing Darwin Nunez. 

Read the chat in full below.

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Diogo, this is actually your first experience of a summer tour as a Liverpool player, how are you finding it so far?

Well, it was also my first summer injured so not what I expected, obviously, so it was a different one. More cautious [but] I am almost back 100 per cent with the team so that’s the most important [thing]. So, in the end it was a summer to recover.

Has it surprised you a little bit, the level of support for Liverpool here in Asia?

Yes. When we travel there are loads of fans, obviously for them it is very important that they support us but normally they cannot be so close to us. So, now they can because we are here and we just need to show them our appreciation, of course, because it is really important to have supporters. I think in the end that is why you play the game and that is what makes you feel good as well at the end of the day.

Did any of the lads or staff tell you what it was going to be like before you came here or has it been a complete surprise to you?

Well, I was kind of expecting it [because] Liverpool is one of the best clubs in the world who a lot of people support, so no-one really told me but I can expect it. But obviously you get always a bit surprised as well because there are so many, all of them in Liverpool shirts, so it is really good and hopefully tomorrow we can do a good game to show people in this country and in Asia how we play [in] the Premier League.

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Inside Pre-season: Reds travel to Bangkok

How is the injury you sustained over the summer?

Yeah, a hamstring injury [in] the last game with Portugal – very unlucky! But it happened and I just had the summer to recover well and start the pre-season at 100 per cent.

Do you feel ready to be involved in team training and maybe get some minutes against Manchester United here on Tuesday, or is that game a little bit too soon?

Probably too soon. As well, because I was with the national team I just came back yesterday as well, so I still need to do the last steps to be 100 per cent with the team so probably that is too soon. But I will be ready very, very soon.

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Last season was so intense, do you feel refreshed mentally after a break over the summer?

Yeah. I think in the end we had a good break, everyone. Obviously the national team players had these extra days [which] were very important as well. I think we all had the opportunity to relax, to start again, to do a little reset and to be ready to go again. I think this season could be similar, hopefully, and we need to be ready and of course with the World Cup in between as well [during] the season, that will be an extra factor… so hopefully there is a good season ahead.

The Community Shield against Manchester City takes place soon, at the end of July. What do you hope to achieve fitness- and sharpness-wise before that game?

Of course it’s not the best scenario but for them it will be similar, so no excuses. I think of course we need to try to be closest to our best, although it will be hard to happen because as you said, it is only [just over] two weeks away. But I think we can reach a good level that will allow us to win that Community Shield.

Photos: Darwin Nunez trains with Liverpool teammates in Bangkok
10th July 2022

GalleryPhotos: Darwin Nunez trains with Liverpool teammates in BangkokDarwin Nunez trained with his Liverpool teammates for the first time on Sunday evening in Bangkok – check out our gallery from the session.

Darwin Nunez has been added to the squad along with Fabio Carvalho. I know you are a Porto fan, but Darwin was great at Benfica – what kind of qualities will he bring to the team?

Well, I follow the Portuguese league obviously and what he did last year was amazing. It is not as easy as people might think! He scored loads of goals, including in the Champions League and against us, so I think we can expect that from him. Hopefully he can have the same impact that Luis [Diaz] had last year because that will be important for us.

You enjoyed an excellent season last term, what are your aims for this coming season?

Hopefully similar. Of course I always give my best. Things do not always go as you hope but there is a big season ahead – like I said, many games so hopefully I can be on the scoresheet often and that’s what I want: to help the team and score goals so we can win football matches.

And are the team’s objectives similar to last season: go for everything?

Yeah, of course. We are Liverpool, we need at least to fight for all the competitions we are involved in. Hopefully we can be so close and in all the decisive moments we were in last year, [although] we also know that is not an easy task, especially when you play in English football. But we will give it our best and try to do it again.

WATCH: Our interview with Diogo Jota in full

Published 11th July 2022