Jorginho has just won the Champions League with Chelsea and will aim for more at the Euros, writes Kaustubh Pandey.
When Jorginho went from Maurizio Sarri’s impressive Napoli side to his under-construction Chelsea side, he became a source of intrigue for many fans in the Premier League. The Brazil-born playmaker was meant to set the tone for Sarri’s system, bring the tactician’s style of play to life and be the foundation when building from the back. Jorginho was there to create passing combinations and pick out third-man runs.
Sarri’s call to use his former Napoli charge at the base of midfield and it’s knock-on effect of moving N’Golo Kante out of that position didn’t go down well with the Chelsea faithful, even though Kante was adept at playing further forward and still does so under Thomas Tuchel.
Frequently, Jorginho’s lack of defensive awareness was pointed out and his technical abilities ignored as critics pointed to his lack of assists in making negative judgements of his contribution, despite Jorginho’s stats marking him out as the best progressive passer in the league in Sarri’s lone season in London. He was misunderstood, especially as the team around him wasn’t fully suited to Sarri’s brand of football.
Fast forward to today, with Chelsea under Tuchel and the same Jorginho’s is heralded as a key cog in the machine, largely because Tuchel’s team functions as a unit in a more cohesive manner than Sarri’s. Now half of the double-pivot in front of the back three, Jorginho’s weaknesses are marginalised and his strengths maximised. The system is dynamic and changes shape in and out of possession, and Jorginho’s passing range from deep allows Chelsea to be pragmatic and easy on the eye. Kante or Mateo Kovacic sit next to Jorginho with the freedom to break forward.
Chelsea’s involvement in the Champions League Final complicated Jorginho’s involvement in the pre-Euro 2020 friendlies, but he is expected to be part of Roberto Mancini’s squad for the tournament. Mancio has used the 29-year-old as a regista behind Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella, with the pair more than capable of helping out defensively too.
Manuel Locatelli is also an option for the deeper role and may grow into it in the future, Jorginho adds something unique to the Italy side, and could be more effective than Locatelli in games that Italy expect to dominate possession. Locatelli is emerging, slowly and steadily, so Euro 2020 could be Jorginho’s chance to play and win an international tournament after lifting the first Champions League in his career only a few days ago.