Jota: Why Celtic fans should not get too excited about permanent deal
It feels as if there has been a failure to read between the lines amid the clamour for Celtic to sign up permanently the revelatory performer that winger Jota is proving to be.
The case for the club stumping up, without delay, the £6.2million to meet the buy-out clause in the year-loan loan deal agreed with Benfica to bring the 22-year-old to Glasgow is irresistible. It could be no other way when the attacker is proving irrepressible.
The first 17-game run of starts across his entire career – wherein he has previously been a bit-part player at his parent club and on loan to Real Valladolid last season – has been accompanied by spectacular returns. Suddenly, he is the primary source of potency for Ange Postecoglou’s men. His goal in the weekend win over Aberdeen was his fifth in five games, and his eighth in Celtic colours. And that is before you factor in his six assists. Notably, between these two metrics, he has had a goal action in all but one of Celtic’s five games in a Champions League standard Europa League group.
What his continental contributions suggest about Jota’s ability to thrive at the highest level will not be lost on the player. Or his representatives. In an acute contrast with fellow Celtic loanee Cameron Carter-Vickers immediately responding in the affirmative when asked if he would be open to a permanent move from Tottenham Hotspur, Jota danced on the head of a pin to sidestep the question over his future when he landed a first player of the month award last week. The Portuguese, and those advising him, will keep their options open until next summer. In the hope, whether the Celtic support like it or not, that a juicier, more lucrative, offer is landed elsewhere. That is how the game works.
Moreover, there seems to have been little attention given to Postecoglou hinting as much in his television post-match interview after the Aberdeen win. The Celtic manager did make the point that he was sure Jota “understands what the football club has done for him”. He followed this up, though, with a telling line about not being one to “play games” around contract negotiations. “If people want to stay here, and there is a willingness on our side, we will do our best to keep everyone that wants to stay here,” he said tellingly. Telling, in that he didn’t explicitly state Jota could be placed in this bracket.
It can be rest assured the wide man has supplied more than enough evidence of his captivating talents for Celtic to be prepared, in a heartbeat, to meet Benfica’s asking price and make the player among their highest earners. However, retaining his services beyond this season is not in their gift. The bitter reality is that his excellence puts him out of their reach. Celtic can’t offer Jota a home in one of the big five leagues, and can’t put together a salary package that would be anywhere close to what any interested English top flight side would casually dangle in front of him. Jota committed himself to Celtic for a season. He has no obligation to the club beyond that, irrespective of how much he may be revelling in the opportunities for burnishing his talents the move has provided him.