It has been five weeks since Jota pulled up clenching his left hamstring against Hearts. The intervening period has been busy for Celtic, six wins, one of which was the League Cup Final, and a draw, three signings and a double contagion of further hamstrings and illness, put thoughts of our Portuguese winger to the back of our minds.
Ange Postecoglou intimated his was the most severe of the many similar injuries sustained in December. Initial hopes were that he would return after the winter break, which is far from sure as things stand. The player has rested but not tested his injury yet. He has had the equivalent of a close season on the sidelines and will have a corresponding ‘preseason’ recovery regime to get back to full fitness. That starts after his injury is considered fixed.
Jota has been an irrefutable success since arriving on loan from Benfica in the summer. He delivers goals, assists and the best at the club in transitioning defence into attack (what was known as an out ball, in old money). Celtic are right to setup the process to confirm his permanent transfer, at a reported £6.5m, he is value. Still, that hamstring.
Hamstrings are one of the most pernicious injuries a player can get. They can inflict untold damage across many years. Shaun Maloney was plagued for years, before eventually finding a way to train and play that protected his damaged muscle.
Get the deal with Benfica ready to sign, pending a fitness test as late in the season as possible. If he does not play for an extended period without remission, we should not sign him. If you want to maximise your potential as a club, there is no room for sentiment or wishful thinking.