Chelsea finally got their preparations for the new season on track with the acquisition of Maurizio Sarri from Napoli. The controversial Italian replaces his compatriot Antonio Conte, who was not allowed to see out his contract with the Blues.
Sarri, however, comes along with his trump card, ready to spearhead the implementation of his football philosophy and style in England. But in Jorginho, Chelsea have pulled up a surprise as the exceptional midfielder was thought to be headed to Manchester City before making a swift U-turn for Stamford Bridge.
A blow to Pep’s chances next term
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City have history against them as they seek to retain their Premier League title. After mesmerising England with the Catalan’s sleek football — the likes of which was seen in Barcelona when he was in charge — the club will have an uphill task retaining the title. No side, remember, has been able to achieve the feat since the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson. The Red Devils last did it in the 2008-09 season.
Losing Jorginho to Chelsea is a huge blow for Guardiola and his City side. The Brazilian-born Italy international comes to the Premier League having distinguished himself in Naples as one of the best midfielders in the world. In fact, he led the way last season as the best passer of the ball in Europe’s top five leagues, with 3,197 passes in 33 games.
Jorginho is a complete midfielder
The midfield dynamo has the pleasure of being compared to former Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo, due partly to his all-around game. He makes the necessary interceptions, wins tackles and creates scoring chances. He is the complete midfielder, maintaining the right balance between defensive displays and attack. With 62 tackles won, 50 interceptions made and 49 goal-scoring chances created in a single season, he is right up there.
This captures his manager’s philosophy of the game. The chain-smoking Sarri believes in playing with an emphasis on attacking football. The 2016-17 Italian manager of the year, who received glowing praise from Guardiola after their Champions League meeting last term, could turn out to be the biggest threat to the Manchester City gaffer in the coming season.
Thanks to Jorginho, who turned down a move to City choosing to follow his manager at Napoli to England, Sarri has a loyal soldier to count on to provide the link between his seamless free-flowing football in Italy and the more defensive approach the Blues have become accustomed to.
A solid foundation for Sarri and Chelsea
Manchester City, meanwhile, will find it difficult getting another player of the same calibre. The club’s summer transfer window has been unusually inactive, only signing Rihad Mahrez thus far. Despite having a huge problem in the defensive midfield position, there has been no mention of any players providing cover for Fernandinho. The Brazilian’s woeful performance at the World Cup shows that his days of dishing out top-class performances are fast coming to an end. His compatriot Fred was touted to be his natural heir at the club, but he too has been snapped up by another competitor.
The importance of this position for any club cannot be overemphasised. N’golo Kante and Danny Drinkwater provided the central defensive cover required for Leicester’s unprecedented title run in the 2015-16 season. The French international moved to Chelsea the next season and combining with Matic, helped the Blues to dethrone the Foxes. Even though Drinkwater did join Kante last season, the Englishman was hampered by injuries. But Jorgino’s entrance may well prove to be a game changer for the North London side who are ready to put the disappointment of last season behind them.