While Sunday's derby defeat was a tale of missed chances for Celtic, another issue it shone a cruel light on was the lack of squad depth at the club.

Ange Postecoglou said himself in his post-match comments that part of the reason he opted to shift Kyogo Furuhashi out wide was that an injury to James Forrest had limited his options.

With time running out in the summer transfer window and a lack of viable game-changing options available to Postecoglou, the Parkhead side are closing in on Benfica winger Jota on a loan-to-buy deal ahead of the deadline.

Here, The Celtic Way takes a closer look at Jota, his background and performance metrics as well as testimony from those who have watched him progress.


The right-footer, from Lisbon, came through ranks at Benfica alongside the likes of Joao Felix in a youth system that Bernardo Silva once said he would like to have "taken to Manchester (City) with him".

Jota began getting call-ups to the first team in 2018 and has since made 23 league appearances and scored twice. He spent some time on loan at Spanish side Valladolid during the 2020-21 season (17 appearances, one goal) but it is for his successful youth career he garnered a fledgling reputation.

Jota is an accomplished Portugal youth international with more than 70 caps from under-15 to under-21 level. The winger was a regular scorer for these teams and won both the 2016 under-17 and 2018 under-19 European championships while finishing runner-up in the 2017 under-19 event and again in this summer's under-21 version.

He shared the golden boot at the triumphant under-19 tournament with Francisco Trincao (now on loan at Wolves from Barcelona) by bagging five goals, including two in the final against Italy, and made the team of the tournament at both of Portugal's victorious championships.

With his club side, he won the 2017-18 Portuguese youth title and played in the 2016-17 Uefa Youth League final.

Overall since the start of the 2015-16 season, WyScout notes that Jota has 21 goals (18.59 xG) and 14 assists (13.99 xA) in 3,984 minutes played (roughly the equivalent of 44 matches) for his various youth teams.

Player profile & performance comparisons

There is, however, a concern to be aired with regards to his lack of overall game-time in the senior ranks.

Jota played 19 matches for Benfica in Liga Nos during the 2019-20 season but at an average of just 13 minutes per game. While on loan at Valladolid, he appeared in 17 La Liga matches but did not complete the full 90 minutes in any of them.

A minimum requirement for an attacking player in Postecoglou’s side is to defend from the front as soon as the game starts. Kyogo, Odsonne Edouard, James Forrest, Liel Abada and a few others have learned this already and Jota will need to be studious to learn the professor’s ways.

These concerns are not insurmountable but Jota's ability to get up to speed for Postecoglou's high-intensity style may be hindered for a while, as Aaron Barton, host of Portuguese football podcast Proxima Jornada, told The Celtic Way.

“He’s 22 now so should be at optimum fitness but the chances are he won’t be because he’s not playing week in, week out for Benfica so he’s not training with his mind on the game," said Barton.

"He probably knows he won’t be involved so he’s just keeping himself ticking over. Giving your maximum effort over 20 minutes and 90 minutes are very different things.

"I’ve not seen him have to play like that before. He’s the unfinished article right now. Celtic will have to have that conversation with him so he knows what he’s coming into and that he can’t be a passenger."

Nevertheless, since the start of the 2018-19 season Jota has 12 goals (9.01 xG) and nine assists (6.27 xA) from 2,898 minutes played (roughly 32 games).

He is a useful crosser (almost four per game with 43.1 per cent accuracy since the start of the 2018-19 campaign), a persistent dribbler (more than six per game with 57.87 per cent success) and a willing shooter (almost three per game at 54.9 per cent accuracy).

Celtic Way:

Off the ball, Jota has competed in more than 20 duels per game (45.8 per cent success rate) since the start of the 2018-19 season, is good for a couple of interceptions and progressive runs per game as well as a few recoveries (more than half of which are in the opposition's half).

In addition to his usual role of left wing, Jota played on the opposite flank regularly while on loan at Valladolid. He has seen some game-time in attacking midfield and featured as a central striker on occasion too, although he is yet to score while playing there. He has also filled in at left wing-back twice in his career to date.

The eye test

To try to provide a fuller picture of Jota's capabilities, we decided to ask people who have watched him closely for years.

"Jota’s a talented player, nobody can dispute that," says Aaron Barton, host of the Proxima Jornada podcast.

"The perception of him in Portugal is that he should have already taken off by now by breaking into the Benfica team or establishing himself elsewhere. 

"He’s not going to get a chance under Jorge Jesus in Lisbon, but that doesn’t take away from the fact he’s a talented boy.

"He likes to dribble and create chances, go on the outside, chop to the inside. He’s an attacking threat and in some of the games for Valladolid last season when he got the chance he was quite dangerous, but it’s polishing off those final bits of his game that’s important.

"People say it will come with time but he needs to be playing for that to happen.

"Jota’s played a lot of games at youth level, a lot of games for Benfica B in the second division against men. It’s not like he hasn’t had a taste of men’s football, but he hasn’t played enough at senior level.

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"He needs to get this next move right because you can go from 22 to 24 in the blink of an eye, suddenly you’re in your mid-20s. If he goes and does well at Celtic, maybe plays in Europe, then it gives him a good platform."

Likewise, Jota's undoubted talent as a youth player and subsequent lack of progression in the senior ranks has led to expectations starting to fall. But that is, it is argued, not due to the 22-year-old's approach to the game.

"People wondered if he’d be the replacement for Joao Felix who was doing great things at Benfica at that stage, and one star would follow another," adds Tom Kundert, creator of Portugoal.

"I have to say, though, he’s been disappointing at that level and hasn’t translated his amazing potential for the first-team at senior level.

"(But) that's nothing to do with his attitude, it's just about trying to replicate what he did at youth level. Some people think he’s never realy been given a fair crack of the whip but he’s been given sporadic chances and never really grabbed them.

"We see this happen so often. Especially attacking players look like stars in the making at youth level but it’s a different story to senior football and they often fail to make the transition or take a bit more time than expected to get into the mindset or adjust physically.

"He’s a fragile player. Even when people would suggest to him when he was a teenager that he’d be the next star, he’d answer with 'I haven’t done anything yet, I’ve got plenty of work to do' and that kind of thing so I wouldn’t be worried about his attitude if I were a Celtic fan. He's a good professional, it's just about unlocking his potential and seeing what people thought they would."


Key to this potential deal is that Celtic have reportedly negotiated an optional purchase clause rather than an obligation. loan-to-buy option.

That is likely to be a vital distinction in how the move is perceived but, regardless, Celtic are clearly in line to recruit another exciting player; a player used to winning games who can frustrate and excite in equal measure.

Which side to Jota Celtic fans get to see most often in the next seven or eight months will go a long way to deciding if that buy option is exercised and he is here this time next year.