This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.
The November international break was a memorable one for Wolves forward Diogo Jota, who was capped by Portugal’s senior team for the first time as they secured their place at the Euro 2020 finals and remain on course to defend the title they won in France three years ago.
Like with Raul Jimenez and Willy Boly, the winger first came to Molineux on loan, joining from Atletico Madrid on a one-year deal in July 2017 (as per BBC). He never actually played for the Rojiblancos, who had also loaned him out to Porto the previous season, where a return of nine goals from 38 games (including eight Champions League appearances) hinted at plenty of promise as to what he could do in the Championship.
His move to Molineux ensured a swift reunion with manager Nuno Espirito Santo, who was also his boss at Porto during 2016/17, and he was joined in the Black Country that summer by compatriot Ruben Neves. [via BBC]
Jota did not take long to make his mark at Wolves, scoring on just his third league appearance and then hitting four in three games in September. [via TransferMarkt]
Having hit seven goals by mid-October, he didn’t manage to keep up the same frequency during the winter months but still started almost every game as Wolves made top spot their own. Indeed, he had done enough to convince the club to announce his permanent signature in January 2018, with the transfer taking effect the following summer for a fee of €14m (£11.94m), according to Birmingham Live.
He finished the season strongly, too, with a spell of four goals in five games in April as Nuno’s team first clinched promotion and then sealed the Championship title. He ended the campaign with 17 league goals and 18 in total, 50% more than Wolves’ next most prolific player Leo Bonatini that term (as per TransferMarkt).
Jota was joined up front by Jimenez in summer 2018 as Wolves geared up for their Premier League return and while he would have to wait until December for his first goal in the division, he timed his moment well, netting the winner against Chelsea at Molineux.
He would also score in home wins over Manchester United (in the league and FA Cup) and Arsenal later in the season but perhaps the highlight of his Black Country career came in a pulsating 4-3 win over Leicester in January.
Jota scored another milestone goal in Wolves history six months later when netting in the 2-0 home win over Crusaders in Europa League qualifying, the club’s first in Europe for almost four decades. [via wolves.co.uk]
Portugal manager Fernando Santos had recognised the 22-year-old’s impressive performances at club level by including him in their UEFA Nations League squad during the summer but he would have to wait until this month to make his senior debut. The man he replaced in the 83rd minute against Lithuania was none other than Cristiano Ronaldo, a veteran of more than 160 caps who had been playing for his country since 2003, when Jota was six.
Jota also came off the bench against Luxembourg three days later and could easily have had his first international goal, only for his goal-bound shot to be turned in by Ronaldo, with the Juventus man closing to within one of his century for Portugal.
The goals haven’t quite been flowing for the Wolves man of late – his only strike since August was the stoppage-time equaliser at Crystal Palace two months ago – but the form he has shown throughout his time at Molineux would suggest that the milestone of a first international goal in 2020 is eminently achievable.
From a mid-table Championship side to part of the European champions’ squad in little over two years, it has been some journey for Jota, whose capture by Wolves has proven to be far more than just chauvinistic Portuguese-grabbing by Nuno.
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