Jota was tipped to be Ronaldo’s successor by former coach as he lives up to big billing with Liverpool

Jorge Simao, who worked with the Reds forward at Pacos de Ferreira, always believed that the hard-working 23-year-old would reach the very top

Diogo Jota was billed as “the successor to Cristiano Ronaldo” long before he burst onto the scene in English football, with the Liverpool forward’s former coach revelling that he tipped the 23-year-old for the top back in 2016.

At that stage, the hard-working forward was still making a name for himself in his native Portugal.

He had caught the eye at Pacos de Ferreira, tempting La Liga giants Atletico Madrid to make a move for his services.

They were prepared to let Jota remain in his homeland after doing that deal, with a loan agreement put in place with Porto.

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At that stage, Jorge Simao made it clear to anyone prepared to listen that he saw a player of considerable promise following in the footsteps of a legendary countryman.

Simao, who worked with Jota at Pacos de Ferriera, told The Athletic: “Nobody does what Jota is doing now without having real ambition.

“When he signed for Porto [in 2016], I told a Portuguese website that, for me, Jota would be the successor to Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Obviously, that was quite a big claim to make at that time, because Jota had only played for Pacos and had not had a good time at Atletico Madrid.

“When Jota signed for Liverpool, I sent him a message to congratulate him. He replied, five seconds later, with a link to that old article about him and Ronaldo.

“It was the very first thing he sent! He must have had it bookmarked. Incredible! He hadn’t forgotten.”

Liverpool snapped Jota up from Wolves in the summer transfer window.

He had recorded 44 goals through 131 appearances at Molineux and quickly set about making his mark on Merseyside.

Jurgen Klopp invested £45 million ($58m) worth of his faith in his ability, with the reigning Premier League champions eager to add greater depth to their attacking options.

Jota has delivered an immediate return for the Reds, with the target found on seven occasions through 11 outings.

He is pushing hard for a regular role at Anfield and has also taken his tally of international caps to 10, as he looks to prove worthy of his billing as Ronaldo’s heir while competing alongside the Juventus superstar.



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