Jota – Celtic’s new magician by Jake McGhee
Who is Jota?
João Pedro Neves Filipe captured the attention of the footballing world at Benfica and for the Portuguese National Team at U19 level as he played a pivotal role in guiding the ‘Seleção’ to the UEFA U19 Euros. Jota earned his spot in the Team of the Tournament by bagging 5 goals in the tournament, sticking him right at the top of the scoring charts alongside his countryman Trincão.
In Benfica’s youth academy he was always regarded as one of the most promising talents to pull on the jersey, he was an outstanding performer in many games and had a particular knack for the Youth League in which he played arguably his best football and racked up some impressive numbers.
However, since this bright start to his footballing career Jota’s light has dimmed, an underwhelming loan spell at Real Valladolid amongst a relatively unsuccessful start to life at his home club, managing to find the net only twice in 34 appearances, he was thrown into an experienced team in times of trouble for As Águias meaning he couldn’t play his preferred role and was understandably low on confidence. A deadline day loan move to Scottish giants Celtic handed Jota an opportunity to kick-on in his career and rediscover his impressive form that he gave glimpses of for the national team, and Jota has certainly taken this opportunity with both hands.
Style of Play
The tricky winger has operated on either wing so far this season for Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic and has taken to Celtic like a duck to water. With 7 goal contributions in 10 appearances the maestro has already cemented his place in the starting 11 and all Celtic fans are hopeful of a permanent deal being achieved at some point. Operating in a 4-3-3 system with Celtic skipper Callum McGregor orchestrating play behind the 2 other midfielders who are given free roam ahead of him to often play searching balls out to the wingers Jota and Abada. This open and positive style of play suits Jota perfectly as he is a player who thrives in 1v1 situations and boasts an impressive arsenal of tricks to bypass his man and thread a ball into the danger area, as is highlighted in this clip:
Jota has been a breath of fresh air for Celtic, a true entertainer who can produce a moment of magic but also knows when to play simple football, he seems to have matured quickly since he left Benfica, with many Benfica fans citing him as a player who would prefer to do a step-over rather than play a key pass. In an era of players who are programmed to play the correct ball every time and only do what is necessary players like Jota are a welcome addition to the game, particularly to Scottish football.
Jota and Kyogo
Since arriving at Celtic all the men in Hoops have revelled in the newfound creativity that Jota offers, perhaps nobody more than Celtic’s talisman Kyogo Furuhashi. The Japanese international who has shown his potency in front of goal has been greatly benefitted by Jota’s presence on the park, in an interview following Celtic’s victory against Hungarian outfit Ferencvarosí the Portuguese winger stated “I’m starting to get to know Kyogo and his movements are unbelievable. He really can move, he’s one of the best players I’ve seen doing movements.” His comment certainly transpired onto the park as he found Kyogo with an inch-perfect ball for the Japanese striker to dispatch.
The two seem to have formed a friendship and understanding both on and off the park. The harmony and team spirit between the two are a sign of Ange Postecoglou’s team finally gelling and beginning to implement the Australian’s philosophy and style of play. If Celtic continue like this Jota will no doubt be a mainstay in the team and will be relied upon as a creative source alongside Abada on the opposite wing.
Jota certainly hasn’t seemed out of place in Glasgow and seems to be relishing his time at the club, he has commented on how impressed he has been with the Celtic fans and the atmosphere they create at every game. The energy put out by the fans is definitely being felt by Jota as the crowd rise to their feet on many occasions whenever Jota gets ahold of the ball. Jota seems to be rapidly falling in love with the club and if this form keeps up he’ll become an even bigger cult hero to the Parkhead faithful, come the end of the season all Celtic fans will have their fingers crossed that he opts to continue his career in Glasgow and not become another one of the ‘what ifs?’.
I certainly believe Jota has a high chance of putting pen to paper and making the deal permanent, as aforementioned he seems to love the club and the fans certainly love him. However, the prospect of returning to his childhood club always looms and will be appealing to the Portuguese winger.
Thanks to @SLBenficaYouth for information of his time at Benfica.