Former Celtic scout David Moss has today revealed Celtic had an opportunity to sign current fan favourite Jota as far back as 2015 in a cut price deal when the player was only 16 years old.
Moss was the former Head of Scouting at Celtic Park from 2010 to 2017 and revealed that he travelled to Lisbon to watch the youngster and speak with his parents about a potential move to Glasgow.
It is believed that a deal of £200,000 was thrashed out between the parties, a paltry figure compared to the £6.5M we would have to shell out now although back then Jota was little more than a prospect. Unfortunately the deal fell through when Benfica tempted Jota to stay in his homeland with a contract offer of their own.
Moss told the Scottish Daily Mail: “Helena Costa was a scout at Celtic for a long time and very good at her job. She coached Jota at the Benfica academy from when he was eight or nine years old and she recommended him to Celtic when he was around 16.
“I was scouting for the Celtic academy when she said to me: ‘David, you need to try and sign this winger before he signs a contract with Benfica’.
“I went over there a few times to watch him and met him and his parents. For whatever reason, I just don’t think Celtic were in a position back then to go and spend £200k or whatever the fee would have been to take on a teenage player with no first-team experience.
“I am still in touch with Jota’s dad Pedro now. He invited me up to the hotel when he first signed on loan with Celtic. I couldn’t make it up because I was away, but next time we’re both in Glasgow we plan to meet up.”
He continued: “I haven’t seen every game Jota has played but he is a player Celtic should try to sign. Clubs down south will definitely be sitting up taking note of his form now.
“His strength is his technique. He is a typical Portuguese winger with creativity. The good thing about him is that he has always scored goals and produced an end product. He is not a winger who has no outcome. Helena always said he had an end product.”
Interesting information regarding how close we came to signing the exciting Portuguese star in his younger years, especially with the story now coming full circle and Jota currently lighting up Celtic Park with some fantastic displays this season while on loan from Benfica years after our initial interest.
While it is interesting I doubt it’s as big a deal as will be made out. A huge club like Celtic must scout hundreds of young prospects each year and put together a package to try and entice them to he club but through a whole variety of reasons this won’t always pan out the way they would like it to.
In Jota’s case as a young lad born and raised in Lisbon I imagine the thought of signing a professional contract with local heavyweights Benfica would be a dream come true, especially having progressed through their youth system. I imagine it would be much more challenging trying to convince such a player to uproot his whole life and move from the sunny climates of Portugal to the cold and wet pleasures waiting for them in Glasgow.
The most important thing is now that we have finally got Jota to come to Scotland, let’s do everything in our power at the end of his loan spell to guarantee that he doesn’t slip through our fingers once again. Obviously there will be plenty of interest but if Celtic have first refusal as has been reported then we need to create a package that is attractive to the player and secures his permanent signing.