It has been an excellent summer for Italy, but one of their most important players isn’t native to the country. Jorginho has had a superb season for both club and country. With Chelsea, he lifted the Champions League. With Italy, he could follow that up with the European Championships. Despite being born in Brazil, the midfielder has developed in Italy, with spells at Napoli and Hellas Verona. It took him a while to break into the national team, with former manager Gian Piero Ventura opting to leave him out.
There were rumours that he could be tempted to switch his allegiance to Brazil during this period. Italian supporters will be delighted that he didn’t, as Jorginho is now a key player under Roberto Mancini. He has missed just 15 minutes of Euro 2020, as he was withdrawn early against Wales in the final group game. Italy had already qualified and this was a move to protect their key midfielder. No outfield player has featured in more minutes than the Chelsea man.
Jorginho is averaging 70 passes per game, underlining the way he has set the tempo in Italy matches. There was never any doubt that he would be the player to drop out of the midfield when Marco Verratti returned to fitness. His ability to break lines with his vision is vital to the way Italy build attacks. The 29-year-old has made 45 passes into the final third, which ranks him sixth in this metric for the tournament. Meanwhile, he ranks in the top ten for progressive passes, with 30 to date.
It is his contributions in possession that catch the eye, but Jorginho is aggressive without the ball and he is very good at regaining it for his team. He is averaging 1.7 tackles and 3.5 interceptions per game. Mancini will be pleased that his midfielder is intelligent when it comes to intercepting and doesn’t need to tackle as often as others. Set pieces have been key in this tournament and Jorginho isn’t committing many fouls.
The last 12 months have seen Jorginho transform his image in England. For a long time, he was linked closely to Maurizio Sarri and his failed attempt at changing the style at Stamford Bridge. Although he featured prominently under Frank Lampard, it was difficult to see a long term future for him in the Premier League.
With just two years left to run on his current contract, this may have been viewed as a good summer to sell Jorginho. This may have been Chelsea’s thought in previous summers, especially as he is now 29. There won’t be much resale value in the future.
However, Jorginho has taken his game to a new level in 2021. He has shown that he is capable of impacting big matches and he is even being talked about as a potential contender for the Ballon D’Or. It is unlikely that he will win this, but the fact he is even in the conversation deserves some merit.
Thomas Tuchel is clearly a big fan, as he used Jorginho frequently in the second half of the season. The German’s preferred central midfield is N’Golo Kante and Jorginho. That thought would have been reaffirmed this summer. It is now vital for Chelsea to keep hold of the 29-year-old, as he is now proven at the very highest level.