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Napoli to Chelsea, £50m

Despite being born in the coastal town of Imbituba in the south of Brazil, Jorginho – full name Jorge Luiz Frello Filho – moved to Italy as a child and, with his ability spotted early, began his professional career with Verona. He spent a season on loan at lower-league Sambonifacese before returning to Verona and helping the then-Serie B club secure promotion to the top flight of Italian football.

It didn’t take long for the giants of Italy to circle – midway through his debut season in Serie A the then 22-year-old moved to Napoli. He was an Italian Cup winner in his first season – he played all 90 minutes in the final against Fiorentina, impressing after his midfield partner Gokhan Inler was sent off with 10 minutes remaining – but wasn’t always first choice under Rafael Benitez. He also had his penalty saved by Gianluigi Buffon in an eventual shoot-out victory over Juventus in the Italian Super Cup later that year.

The arrival of the charismatic and well-travelled Maurizio Sarri in the summer of 2015 then meant Jorginho becoming an integral part of their midfield. The reverse triangle within Sarri’s preferred 4-3-3 formation enabled him to control the rhythm of play from deeper positions, with additional forward players in front of him, playing to his impressive range of short passing.

After Sarri’s subsequent move to Chelsea was confirmed, one of the manager’s first acts was to bring Jorginho – who had been strongly linked with joining Pep Guardiola at Manchester City – with him to west London for a fee of £50m.

Tactical analysis
Jorginho is a ball-playing central midfielder who likes to be the focal point of possession. His preferred playing style is to control the build from deeper areas, and then link the midfield into attack (above). His frequent movements across the midfield at times make him almost impossible to track, with his direct opponent often failing to block off his central access.

Despite his ability to maintain possession and build forward, he does lack a consistent and accurate longer pass – and regardless of comparisons with the great Andrea Pirlo, this is an area in which Jorginho could further improve. Being deployed in a deeper position means that the 27-year-old’s goal and assist returns are consistently low. His role has long been to assist the assist from deeper positions, break lines and find better attacking options higher up the pitch. Despite his miss in the 2014 Italian Super Cup, he is also a capable penalty taker, and often took responsibility for Napoli in both domestic and European competition.

If Jorginho does find himself higher up the pitch under new Chelsea manager Frank Lampard, he will often move into the inside channels, most commonly on the left. From there he can penetrate a compact defensive block, usually with clipped balls over the top for wingers or full-backs to collect. This enables a first-time cross across goal, in theory for a simple tap-in for a striker or opposite winger at the far post. Towards the end of his time at Napoli, the midfielder developed a particularly potent relationship with Lorenzo Insigne.

Defensively, Jorginho is vulnerable one against one, particularly when in large spaces alone in front of goal. If used as a single pivot in possession he is naturally responsible for large central spaces so if the ball is lost, he can struggle when teammates aren’t quick enough to support his defensive actions during transitional moments (below). Fast-pressing and quick-attacking Premier League teams such as Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City will naturally look to exploit this, particularly if Lampard uses him as a single defensive midfielder.

Role this season
Under Sarri, Jorginho played as a predominantly single central pivot, but the departure of Eden Hazard arguably makes N’Golo Kante Chelsea’s most important player. It will be intriguing to see how Lampard chooses to set up, and if Kante and Jorginho are retained in the same team.

The obvious choice would be to include a double pivot in central midfield (below, right), with a sole number 10 – Christian Pulisic and Ross Barkley are potential options – in front. This would provide complete defensive stability with an extra player covering the central lanes, but could possibly inhibit their short build-up. The danger is that Kante and Jorginho could suffocate one another in possession, which throughout last season meant Kante too often being wasted in a more attacking role.

Though it would prove a surprise, Chelsea’s transfer ban could yet mean Lampard avoiding multiple changes and therefore maintaining the single pivot with Jorginho, and pushing Kante slightly higher (above, left). This could become the foundation of a high-pressing team, as Kante is perhaps the best ball-winner in the world.

The problem of having Kante higher up the pitch is that it takes away defensive protection in midfield. Quick and incisive forward passing from the Premier League’s better teams would leave Jorginho isolated in front of the defence.


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