When the Jota transfer deal was announced, the general response of Villa fans was underwhelming to say the least. Most of our excitement came from the departure of Gary Gardner and the subsequent firing of Garry Monk that came shortly after.
We were amused by the situation at Small Heath, lets be honest, its hard not to laugh at them. Just this week, I looked up at the white board at work and saw the words “don’t be sad because it’s over, be happy because it happened – Che Adams”; I rest my case.
However, whilst we were laughing, we failed to fully comprehend the player that our club had just signed. I’ll admit, I did not expect him to make the impression that he has, and I really should have. I say this because, every time that I have seen him play against Villa, I have been terrified and mesmerized in equal amounts. He picked up two assists in that original 3-0 hammering that sent us all into a confused meltdown; what is a Brentford and why is it so much better at football than Aston Villa?
Jota picked up 12 goals and 5 assists in just 19 games for Brentford that season; those are very impressive numbers. Perhaps even more impressively, he managed to pick up 11 assists for Blues last season; this is staggering when you consider the quality of the players he was setting up. All of this is very impressive, but he remained an underwhelming signing given our Premier League status and the cash we have been shedding out for talent elsewhere. In the Championship, I would have been incredibly excited to sign Jota, yet in the Premier League, I wasn’t. I was wrong.
In Pre-season Jota has excelled; it is quintessential not to look too much into results during pre-season, however performances and passages of play can still give very useful insights. Firstly, Jota is technically a very special player, you can almost smell his Spanish heritage everytime he nonchalantly controls the ball and then plays a beautifully timed delicate ball with finesse that a player of his price should not possess. To footballing purists and fans of technique, the little Spaniard is medicine. Technical ability is obviously a key factor in stepping up to the Premier League, the tempo is quick and you have to control the ball quickly; Jota problem at all…
Jota has also combined excellently with teammates. I’d argue that Grealish in particular will pick his game up to the level of those around him. I’ll go one step further and argue that he could do this without a limit in the footballing world, his ability would allow him to slot into most Champions league teams and he’d be all the better for it. Grealish is a player who sees runs, he can dictate the play and toy with opponents by spraying the ball around their box.
A Jota type player is of huge use, as he is fantastic at at linking up with Jack. Jota cuts in from the right and floats around the edge of the box, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen him play intricate one-twos and delicate through balls from this position in pre-season alone. We have always had this on the left; Grealish used to be a left midfielder and naturally floats out to this side of the pitch. This allows El Ghazi to cut inside and our left backs to overlap; we get copious amounts of joy from these patterns of play. Consider the the second goal in the Playoff final to be exhibit A, as El Ghazi could cut in to space and shoot. However, we have not had this down the right since Snodgrass. Adomah and Elmo both wanted to go wide, this means they ended up offering the same option. If either of our right sided players did cut in, it would only be to play a short and very simple pass.
By cutting in routinely, Jota creates huge amounts of space for our full backs; Guilbert has been massively successful in exploiting said space already and his connection with Jota looks promising. Jota does not have the same strike of the ball that Snoddy had for us, but he offers a footballing intelligence that will inflict damage on opposition in the highest tier of English football. He is on the same wavelength as Grealish, their patterns of play have already been exceptional as our squad becomes increasingly adept at Dean Smith’s style of football. Our patterns of play are almost unrecognisable to that under Bruce; we were so turgid that calling us static did attacking football an injustice.
If Dean Smith is the manager, Jota is the key and fluidity is in the treasure chest.
I don’t expect Jota to start every game, Trezeguet comes with one hell of a reputation and will be hard to push out of the team. That said, Jota is an incredible option and could easily play a more central role behind a striker; Jota, El Ghazi and Trezeguet are all very tricky wingers who could easily play in a range of formations and systems. This is an enticing prospect to say the least. This also opens up the option to have a bigger striker who is more of a target man figure than just your traditional finisher. Wesley appears to be this sort of player, as is Davis. Picking the next goalscorer in this Villa team is almost as hard as picking a goalscorer at all under Paul Lambert; it’s now a question of who will score, not if we will we score…
Overall, in Jota we have another mouthwatering attacking option. Our manager has a good relationship with him, the fee was minimal, Gary Gardner is gone and Jota’s contract is only for an initial two years. This is a signing that came with next to no risk and promises a large reward.
After seeing Jota’s performances against Walsall I tweeted this:
Surprisingly, for one of my tweets, it actually got some numbers, so I couldn’t help but share it again.
There is a deeper meaning to me sharing this than my own twitter ego though, Jota is the type of player I’ve always wanted Villa to have. David Silva is, in my mind, the best premier league midfielder of the last decade. A tricky, diminuitive, creative ball player is a delight to watch. Like many Villa fans, I was desperate for Gil to be this player; he most certainly was not.
In Jota we may have finally found our very own Spanish Magician, it’s time to stop laughing at the Blues end of the deal and appreciate the player that our board has served up to us because he is very special indeed.
UTV and thanks for reading!
By Callum Richardson