Celtic final word: Jota catching eye of scouts with this trajectory already - and can Moritz Jenz win his own battle?

We are only two games into the 2022/23 cinch Premiership season and already a favourite for player of the year has emerged.

Watching Jota in a Celtic shirt right now is a joy for any football observer. The 23-year-old Portuguese scored a stunning goal last weekend against Aberdeen and, on Saturday, in a 3-1 triumph over Ross County in Dingwall, he was the assist king, laying on all three in an important win for Ange Postecoglou’s team.

Taking the three points back down the A9 for the defending champions was vital given that entering the 84th minute, the scoreline was locked at 1-1. After a goalless first half in which Celtic thoroughly dominated but could not break down a well-organised County, Kyogo Furuhashi opened the scoring on 48 minutes, only for Alex Iacovitti to equalise with a header ten minutes later. While you always had the feeling Celtic would find a winner, it didn’t come until six minutes from time via debutant defender Moritz Jenz. Liel Abada added gloss in stoppage time.

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Celtic will always feel they can win domestic matches with Jota around. He had shown flashes in the opening 45 but it was in the second when he really came into his own. Two-footed and supremely confident, poor Connor Randall ended up injuring himself trying to stop him. Jota’s fancy tricks and turn of pace created the first goal, although his presence of mind to pick out Furuhashi cannot be understated. Nor can the accuracy of his cross to find Jenz, whose bullet header enthralled the travelling fans behind the goal. His pass to Abada was fairly mundane in comparison but he is stardust in the Celtic camp right now.

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Jota has a five-year deal at Celtic but at this rate, Postecoglou will do well to hang on to him for one year. His levels are increasing, his trajectory will catch the eye of clubs in England if it keeps going up. Scouts from Premier League outfits are keenly watching his development at Celtic, much like they did with Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama and Kieran Tierney. Jota feels like he is in that bracket already, a player able to rip up the Scottish top flight.

What is likeable about Jota is his attitude. He is robust, not afraid to get physical. If something does not come off, he will try again. It will be fascinating to see how he fares in the Champions League next month.

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Celtic were not at their best in Dingwall but didn’t need to be. They controlled the ball and will lament conceding a cheap header when in front. There was a ten-minute spell when Ross County looked more dangerous and despite losing their opening two matches, to Hearts and Celtic, points will be on the way to Dingwall soon enough. Jordy Hiwula and Owura Edwards are lively in attack and they are solid at the back.

Celtic had their own debutant in defence – Jenz, a German on loan from Lorient, deputising for the ill Stephen Welsh. He played well. Tall, physical yet composed on the ball, his only blot was a booking for fouling Hiwula. He more than atoned with his goal, and the challenge now for him is to keep Welsh and Carl Starfelt out of the starting XI.

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Jota shone for Celtic in a 3-1 win over Ross County.
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