FILIPE JOTA is on the brink of receiving a Portuguese call-up after impressing international chief Roberto Martinez with his consistent performances for Celtic.
The fans’ favourite has produced the goods again after sealing his £6.5million switch from Benfica in the summer following his eye-catching year-long loan deal.
Jota has collected 27 goals in 79 appearances which is a phenomenal amount for a winger who has set up so many strikes for the likes of Kyogo Furuhashi and his other team-mates.
His mesmerising displays have attracted the attention of Martinez who is now contemplating an invitation for the 24-year-old maverick to join his full squad.
HEAD BHOY…Filipe Jota runs away in triumph after thumping an effort behind Allan McGregor for Celtic’s Scottish Cup semi-final winner at Hampden last month.
Asked if the Hoops ace, capped 18 times at Under-21 level, was in his thoughts, the former Belgium international manager answered: “Absolutely, he’s on my radar.
“I think obviously Jota is a player who is very important for the national team in terms of the qualities he has. He’s a player who has this natural knack of beating players in one-v-one situations.
“Since I arrived in January, I’ve tried to follow all the players and clearly Jota is one of them.
“His evolution has been very impressive. In the last four months, especially, he is growing into a very mature role at his club. He’s always involved in the big moments and that’s important.
“The stats we have from him, they’re very impressive, not just in the Scottish league but in the Champions League.”
Martinez, who took over the Portuguese international set-up after the country’s failure in the winter World Cup Finals in Qatar, continued: “When you’re looking at measuring a player in that natural gift of taking players on it’s very interesting to see it in in different levels.
SILENCE IS GOLDEN…Filipe Jota celebrates his winner at Hampden – but the visiting fans don’t share the Celtic ace’s joy.
“It’s quite interesting that Jota actually has probably a bigger percentage in the Champions League than what he has in the Scottish Premiership and that is something we always follow very closely.
“He’s got the potential for being in the national team, absolutely.”
Former Everton and Wigan boss Martinez, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “Obviously, there’s a lot of competition for places in that role, we have players who have been playing big games for their clubs for a long time now.
“For us, Jota is very much a player who we appreciate what he can bring to the national team. His position is about being consistent. I think what has been very good is that he’s been very consistent with this role.
“Obviously, you’re talking about that position we have players like Joao Felix, Rafael Leao, but Jota has evolved immensely. When I look back at his time at Benfica and he had his time in Spain, I think he’s found home. I think he really suits Celtic and I think it’ll be very interesting how he develops in the next few months.
THE JOKERS…Filipe Jota and Sead Haksabanovic have a laugh at the end of the win that sealed a Scottish Cup Final place at Hampden early next month.
“Portugal has a population of 10.3 million people, but we’ve got 82 players playing in the top five leagues in Europe. You can see the players they play week in, week out and season after season, in the Champions League.
“They reach almost a level of competition that helps them for international football. So, I was delighted when Jota was involved in the Champions League this season and then having a big role in a club like Celtic can only help him.
”Every player fits into a way of playing. The way Celtic are playing, they rely on players with natural talent that can make the difference, that they can take the advantage.
“When you can see the confidence that Jota is playing at the moment, then he can come up with moments like the goal against Rangers at Hampden last week. A header, that’s very unusual!
“He’s just been in the right place at the right time and I think it shows you that he’s playing with confidence.
“That is down to the environment that the manager has created. It is the perfect environment for Jota to carry on developing.”
* Roberto Martinez spoke during his guest appearance at Beatson Cancer Charity’s annual Sporting Dinner in Glasgow, which raised £138,000.