Liverpool can repeat Diogo Jota transfer trick with player Jürgen Klopp ‘likes a lot’

When Liverpool were linked with a transfer move for Jarrod Bowen in the summer, there was a bit of head-scratching among supporters. He is not a player of whom anyone had a bad opinion — in all likelihood, most fans had no particular opinion at all prior to the reports. However, with Jürgen Klopp speaking positively about the forward ahead of the game against West Ham, there are increasingly clear parallels between Bowen and Diogo Jota.

Klopp highlighted the journey that Bowen has been on:

“I like Bowen a lot. He made his way up from Hull, and took not too long to get there and show exactly the kind of player he can be in the Premier League.”

Interestingly, this is a similar path to the one trodden by Jota. He arrived at Wolves in 2017/18, initially on loan, and ended the season as the fifth-highest scorer in the Championship. His tally of 17 goals is very much in line with the numbers posted by Bowen in England’s second tier; during his spell at Hull, he netted 14 and then 22 goals. He then hit a remarkable 16 goals from the wing in his final half-season at the club, earning a January move to West Ham.

The most important parallel is what came next in the respective careers of Jota and Bowen. For the Portuguese international, whose switch to Wolves was made permanent in the summer of 2018, the step up to the Premier League barely affected his output at all. In his one Championship season, he averaged 0.55 goals and assists per 90; in his maiden top flight campaign, that figure was 0.54 ( FBRef ). Interestingly, these numbers sloped off a bit in his second Premier League season, but the underlying expected goals and assists numbers went up.

Likewise, Bowen did not take long to adapt to the Premier League, as Klopp alluded to in his recent pre-match comments. The 0.59 goals and assists per 90 from his final full Championship season dropped down to 0.49 in 2019/20, and then 0.46 in his first full West Ham campaign, but a goal contribution almost once every two games is indicative of a winger who has settled in fairly well. This season, while the raw returns have been fewer, the expected goals and assists per 90 are the highest they have been since his switch to the London Stadium and the top flight, back up above 0.5.

For the Liverpool recruitment team, a proven record of adapting to a higher level is extremely desirable. There are precious few teams in the world on the same level as Klopp’s side, and none of those clubs are eager sellers in the transfer market — whenever Liverpool buy anybody, they have to rely on the new recruit’s ability to take a step up.

Perhaps the leap from the Championship to the Premier League is not so different from the step up from a mid-table side to a title challenger. Clearly, it is a journey that holds some appeal for Klopp — as a former second-tier warrior with Mainz, it may well be that he appreciates the mindset it instils as much as anything else.

In the case of Jota, the recruitment tactic has worked a treat. His output has exploded at Liverpool; the steady numbers at the previous two rungs on the footballing ladder proved to be an indicator that he was more than ready for the final step. Those who questioned the decision to pay a £40m transfer fee to Wolves were quickly made to look foolish, and this should influence how the links to Bowen are viewed.

There is no doubt that Bowen would cost Liverpool a pretty penny. Unlike Jota, he is English, and will therefore come with a home-grown premium. West Ham are also a more established Premier League side with European football on offer, adding to their negotiating power. However, if Klopp and the recruitment team think he is worth it, they’re probably right.

The pipeline from the Championship to mid-table to the top has already provided Liverpool with one successor to the deadly but ageing front three. If Bowen follows Jota, and replicates the successful start the former Wolves man has made to his Anfield career, the club could find another piece in the puzzle as they look to build sustained success.

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