Nicolas Pepe and Arsenal’s role in Liverpool’s signing of in-form Diogo Jota

Arsenal set the template for Liverpool's impressive transfer move for Diogo Jota, according to a leading football agent.

Jota has been in remarkable form since joining the Reds from Wolves in September, hitting seven goals in 10 appearances including a hat-trick at Atalanta in the Champions League.

The Portuguese forward could never quite be regarded as a regular starter at Wolves, and so there was a surprise among some that Liverpool committed to a £41m deal to prise him from Molineux.

But the Reds have only committed to 10 per cent of that transfer upfront, as they utilised a growing trend for splitting large transfer fees over time that, according to the agent, started with Nicolas Pepe's £72m move to Arsenal from Lille last summer.

"Arsenal became the first to really push through a massive deal and spread over a period of time like they did when they signed Nicolas Pepe, and that was before coronavirus was even a concern," the unnamed agent told the Liverpool Echo.

"They were able to sign a player for over £70m and spread that payment, their transfer spend for that particular deal being booked as £20m or so in that financial year.

"They were buying from a smaller club, where the player's value was at it's highest for that particular club. Also, when a player wants to go and there is a substantial deal, if the player wants that to happen then it will happen eventually."

The agent added that the Reds may have been forced to pay more upfront for Jota if the financial climate was a little clearer.

"I think in a normal climate you would have seen Wolves dig in a bit more over Jota, but I think they saw that the best deal they were likely to get any time soon was the one that Liverpool had presented, a big fee spread over time," he added.

"Clubs are having to be more careful when structuring deals than they ever have before because their finances are more exposed because of Covid.

"Jota's deal makes sense because it is a small fee initially and the rest of the deal is financed over time when, hopefully, things start to return to normal which means that club's revenue streams improve."

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