Diogo Jota has been backed to become a regular starter as part of Liverpool’s front three following his match-winning display against Arsenal.
The £45million summer signing from Wolves scored his 11th and 12th goals of the season for the Reds after coming off the bench in the 3-0 win at the Emirates.
Having missed three months of the campaign with a knee injury, the Portuguese international was making just his 22nd appearance since making the switch from Molineux.
Jota also added to his tally with three strikes for Portugal during the recent international break, and former Liverpool striker Michael Owen believes he should be starting for Jurgen Klopp’s side in Madrid.
“He plays. Definitely,” Owen told Premier League Productions . “I think he played before today, if I’m honest. He’s come back from international duty, scoring three goals in two games.
Owen backed Jota to muscle his way into Liverpool’s established starting attacking trio following the brilliant start to his Anfield career.
“I think he’s going to start, who would have thought that?, he added. “We’ve spoken about the three attacking players for Liverpool, never being challenged.
“You would have thought he’s coming in for backup but in the blink of an eye – he’s had a decent sized injury in the middle as well – all of a sudden, I think if it’s the Champions League final tomorrow he’s one of the first names, he’s certainly starting.”
The 24-year-old’s 12-goal haul trails behind Salah’s 26 but is level with Mane and twice as many as the six scored by Firmino having played far fewer games than all three.
Ian Wright agreed with Owen that Jota has earned a starting spot for Madrid and also stated his case to be a permanent starter in Klopp’s ‘front three’ – potentially at the expense of the Brazilian.
“You can’t disagree with that,” said the former Arsenal hitman. “You look at the three guys up front, they’re getting to that stage of their career, 29, 30s.
“You look at Roberto Firmino, who is one of my favourites. Because of maybe his goal output, which people can have a dig at him for, but what he brings to the team is magnificent… but what Jota brings, apart from the workrate, the press, is the goals, the impact.
“You need that next person there. He’s obviously there. He’s ready to go.”
“We’re talking about not being there for so long and he’s in, scoring goals and you feel he’s just going to be a mainstay, without a shadow of a doubt.”