Chelsea signed Jorginho Frello from Napoli, along with Maurizio Sarri, in the summer of 2018. Having delved deep into their pockets to fork out over £50M he was destined to become a key asset for the club and so he has been a regular starter since his arrival. Despite this, no player has ever divided the Chelsea fanbase more than the Brazil-born midfielder, so I’m going to give my honest and balanced opinion in this article.
Jorginho is surplus to requirements.
Immediately after reading that headline I’m aware that some of the readers may strongly disagree, and may have even left this page in order to write a strongly worded tweet. That’s fine. Opinions do make football after all. It is my opinion that Jorginho is surplus to requirements at Chelsea, however that doesn’t mean I think he’s a bad footballer.
“Misunderstood”A section of Chelsea fans on Jorginho
I strongly agree with the case that Jorginho is a ‘misunderstood’ player – his ability to perform in a particular, fairly one-dimensional role is second to none. He has made the ‘regista’ position his own and I can not deny that in a system that is built to utilise this role, while papering over his flaws, Jorginho can be an immense footballer.
The Italian international did fail to register a single assist in last season’s Premier League campaign and that stat is often used as a stick to beat Jorginho. Personally, I don’t care about his assist records because that’s not his job – he’s being unfairly compared to the great Cesc Fàbregas. At times he can show a fantastic level of vision, for example the brilliant assist to set-up Tammy Abraham’s goal against Watford. However, some Chelsea fans would argue that Jorginho tries that pass every game without it coming off. I can appreciate his skillset and qualities, but I don’t think his range of ability is wide enough which means he severely lacks the versatility required to succeed long-term. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced he’s suited (or good enough) for the future of Chelsea Football Club under Frank Lampard.
For me, Chelsea may need a more traditional and robust player in the heart of midfield. I won’t discuss possible options for this role, as that’s a totally different article *cough* Ethan Ampadu *cough*. Lampard’s men have clearly faltered defensively this season and the blame cannot be pinned onto one player, so I’m not trying to scapegoat Jorginho, however I’m of the belief that much of these frailties stem from central midfield.
“Your defensive midfielder needs to be able to run. Jorginho can not run”The Chelsea Spot admin and writer Orlando on Jorginho. (@0rland1nho)
Numbers don’t lie, and I’m aware Jorginho’s defensive figures on the surface look impressive. His tackles and interceptions are amongst the highest in the league – that’s a fact so I won’t argue against it. However, having watched every single Chelsea game this season and last, I can’t help but notice that Jorginho is actually a burden to whichever defensive pairing sits behind him. He lacks the pace to recover once the ball is played beyond him or when he gets dribbled past – often leaving the defence exposed. I’m not claiming our centre-backs are blameless themselves either, but having a solid shield in front of them would only benefit the team, especially considering we have a fairly young roster of central defenders – with Antonio Rudiger the most senior at the club despite barely yet reaching his prime years.
The emergence of Billy Gilmour could seal Jorginho’s fate
Now I’m going to contradict myself. I think Billy Gilmour is a phenomenal option for Chelsea in central midfield – despite not being the ‘robust’ player I just claimed we needed. Football isn’t linear, it can be successful in a million different systems, so utilising a deep-lying playmaker like Jorginho can be advantageous. I don’t think using the role of a ‘regista’ is particularly problematic but it can become an issue when the player in question, in this case Jorginho, highly lacks adaptability. I genuinely believe that Billy Gilmour is already a more multi-faceted player than Jorginho and therefore if Frank Lampard intends to play with a deep-playmaker then the young Scotsman is the future.
“There is not a single footballing aspect that Jorginho is better than Billy Gilmour at”The Chelsea Spot admin and writer Orlando (@0rland1nho)
I’ve gauged the opinions of a few of my colleagues from The Chelsea Spot (see the above quotes) and I wholeheartedly agree with Orlando. Gilmour offers a much more wide and diverse range of passing, he’s able to find the final ball more consistently than Jorginho and seemingly looks to advance possession through the thirds with the ball at his feet much more often. The 18-year-old also possesses much greater pace and dribbling ability, which allows him to recover defensively as well as float past incoming challenges while he’s on the ball – something Jorginho simply cannot do. Gilmour also is certainly not afraid of getting in the thick of it and going up for headers, despite only being 5’6”, as seen when he won two out of two aerial duels against Liverpool in the FA Cup. Although the Chelsea Academy graduate obviously lacks experience, I’m convinced he’s the best choice to start games in this position. Despite this, I will accept that I have made my judgement on a small sample size in terms of first-team games.
Stats, stats, stats!
Stats and numbers can be useful tools in the modern game, no doubt. Quite a few of these figures actually back-up Jorginho’s contributions to the Chelsea side but I beg to differ. As seen in the above graph, Jorginho plays more final third passes than any other player who features. Now I won’t deny that that’s impressive, however what that graph doesn’t tell you is actually how effective those final third passes are. Performing a ‘successful’ pass isn’t technically that difficult, especially if the majority of them are directly to the feet of a player who is stood in acres of space. Jorginho’s passes rarely actually kickstart an effective attack and the intangible factors, such as speed, timing and exact placement of pass are hugely important. For maintaining possession Jorginho is excellent, but his passing quality has become massively overrated – the vast majority of balls he plays are safe, simple and often even slow to reach their target. As mentioned earlier, though, that doesn’t mean that Jorginho isn’t capable of the odd moment of magic. In order for this graph to be useful in that respect, it would need to use metrics which take in to account how many risky passes the players attempt, and what percentage of those actually reach their target.
“Regardless of what people think of Jorginho’s ability or usefulness on the field, he’d be a brilliant mentor to the likes of Ampadu and Gilmour in terms of movement and positioning”The Chelsea Spot admin Tomas on Jorginho’s influence off the pitch. (@TomasBlackCFC)
Another intangible is off-the-field factors. I do believe that Jorginho can benefit the team in this sense. He’s clearly an intelligent player with good positional awareness and he does offer some good leadership qualities, hence why Frank Lampard made him vice-captain. The likes of Billy Gilmour, Ethan Ampadu and even Ross Barkley could potentially learn from Jorginho. I don’t think this is enough to save his position in the squad though. It’s easy to forget that Chelsea paid an eye-watering £55M for the Italian and no matter how good a teacher he may be to the younger players, that’s not good value. Besides, I reckon Frank Lampard is probably the better option when it comes to mentoring the young midfielders at the club – he is the best to ever play the position after all!
A game that is often brought to light during this debate is Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Arsenal in December. The Blues struggled in the opening half an hour of the game and ended up 1-0 down, until Lampard subbed off Emerson for Jorginho and the game completely changed. Chelsea took control of the game and went on to steal all three points at the Emirates, with Jorginho being praised for changing the game. He had a good game, no doubt, but what actually changed the game was the switch in system from 3-4-3 to 4-3-3. This formation change allowed Chelsea to regain control of midfield, and I think that regardless of which central player came on (Jorginho was definitely the best option) in replacement of Emerson, this would have been the case.
Time to cash-in?
28-year-old Jorginho is in his prime years and will have a number of admirers across world football, so still holds some transfer value. Chelsea will struggle to make profit, or even break even if they do decide to sell the player – however, if a reasonable bid comes in, I believe Marina should grab her pen and sign off all the documents immediately.
“He (Jorginho) still has his limitations under Lampard’s system in which he isn’t as effective due to being higher up the pitch most of the time, and Frank is looking for a much more athletic team”Chief-Editor of The Chelsea Spot Paree on Jorginho. (@ACParee)
Chelsea have moved on from the football played by Maurizio Sarri and while Jorginho is a good player, he’s just not suited to the flexible style of football that Frank Lampard’s team set out to play. With the Blues seemingly targeting the likes of Jadon Sancho amid reports that Roman Abramovich wants a ‘marquee’ signing, funds will need to be raised, especially with the COVID-19 epidemic effecting teams’ transfer budgets. Therefore, I believe that Jorginho’s time should be up at Chelsea, and if he were to leave then I’d wish him all the best.
That’s my opinion on Jorginho. To be honest this debate has been exhausted for about 18 months now, but I’m of the opinion that as Chelsea fans we should be able to see both sides of the discussion. Tweet us @TheChelseaSpot if you’d like to give your thoughts!