Former Parkhead scout David Moss has revealed how Celtic had a chance to sign Jota for a bargain buy of just £200,000 six years ago.
The Portuguese winger has made a huge impact since arriving on a season-long loan deal from Benfica, becoming an instant favourite among supporters.
As speculation continues to mount over his future, the vast majority of fans along with Hoops legend John Hartson have urged the club’s hierarchy to take up their option-to-buy clause in the player’s contract by making his move to Glasgow permanent.
The skilful attacker can be snapped up for £6.5million NOW before some of Europe’s elite clubs start chasing his signature.
However, Moss, who spent seven years working as in Glasgow as a scout, has confirmed Jota was highly recommended to Parkhead staff at the age of 16 by a coach who had worked with the youngster during his early days in the Benfica academy.
Speaking to the Scottish Daily Mail, Moss said: “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.”
Fast forward six years and Jota is now lighting up the Scottish Premiership, which has not come as a surprise to Moss.
He identified one aspect of the winger’s game that he believes sets Jota apart from other tricky playmakers.
Moss stated: “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.”
His sublime performances in a Hoops jersey earned Jota the cinch Premiership Player of the Month award for October but the 22-year-old insists he is in no rush to resolve his long-term future.
Asked where he sees himself playing in years to come, Jota replied: “A lot of people ask that but my focus is not on that right now.
“My focus is on the team, on our games, on our victories, on the process. I just want to stick with it and be a better person and player every day. That is my aim.
“I never think in the future, I think in the present. I am a present person. That is what I am thinking.
“I wake up every day thinking ‘today I am going to do this, this and this. I want to be better at this, this and this’. What can I do?
“That is what I am looking for. I am not thinking ‘what is going to happen next week or next month or next year’. Just let me enjoy football and be happy.”
Jota played another starring role in Saturday’s 1-0 Premier Sports Cup semi-final win over St Johnstone as he continued to dazzle fans with his nifty footwork and acceleration of pace.
However, the Portuguese star insist he still has plenty of room for improvement, admitting: “Not a chance am I playing at my best.
“Even if I’m playing my best football, I will never say that because a person always has to put their expectations higher - I still have a lot to learn.
“This is the first time I’ve played regularly, which has been really good, but I don’t want to stop here and I want to do more and more and be a better player.
“In Benfica, we were used to winning every game - if we didn’t win one game, we were in trouble.
“It’s the same responsibility here, as you have to win every game and that’s what we are trying to do.”