Curious Jorge – Should Jorginho be sold this summer?

Since his arrival in the summer of 2018, few players have caused as much division amongst the Chelsea fanbase as Jorginho. The metronomic-midfield-maestro (try saying that five times) has been ever-present in Chelsea’s midfield over the past three seasons, though has at times been criticised for his lack of athleticism and alleged “sideways passing”.

Jorginho started the season on uncertain ground at Chelsea. He played a decent number of minutes but as the weeks went on, it became evident that he wasn’t seen as a long-term solution in Frank Lampard’s midfield. As results worsened, Jorginho played less, and it became accepted that his time at Chelsea could be coming to an end.

Things changed however with the arrival of Thomas Tuchel and Jorginho was immediately reinstated as a key man in the German’s midfield. Following his reintroduction to the team, the Italian was instrumental in our top four finish and Champions League win. He was trusted as a starter and as the man who would be at the centre of the Chelsea midfield. N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic came in and out of the team, but it was Jorginho who would always play if fit.

Still, for some reason, there is an uneasy feeling around Jorginho. The constant speculation around a potential move for Declan Rice probably amplifies things and although Jorginho is well suited to European football, some have questioned whether he is good enough to play week in, week out for a Premier League title challenger.

So, should the Blues sell Jorginho?

Selling Jorginho: The Bottom Line.

The short answer is no, and to be completely honest, it is a bit bemusing that this question is even being asked anymore. Only at Chelsea could a midfielder that played over 3000 minutes of football, is trusted by the manager, is vice-captain, and won the Champions League, is still wanted out by sections of the fanbase.

Jorginho is a player’s player. That is to say that he will always be appreciated more by fellow professionals and coaches than by fans. It says a lot that Declan Rice, the player many want brought in to replace Jorginho, has talked about how he looks to him for things to add to his game.

“I study for myself, my own games and others. I like Jorginho, the way he plays and passes. There’s stuff I can add to my game”

Declan Rice

Jorginho is important to Chelsea and the way the Blues play. Perhaps he will never be a fan favourite, and that’s fine, but he definitely shouldn’t be sold this summer.

Why Jorginho has to stay

He’s the only sitting midfield player in the squad

Jorginho is the only senior midfield player right now that is best sitting in front of the defence. Kante thrives when providing defensive support and having the freedom to win the ball high up the pitch and drive forwards, while Kovacic lacks the defensive awareness to shield a back four.

Jorginho on the other hand, only wants to sit. It’s perhaps a reason why fans get so frustrated with him but it’s actually extremely valuable. Jorginho’s discipline and structured approach to football allows for Kante or Kovacic to play their natural game and break forwards.

Fans like to moan about Jorginho being weak in the tackle and that he gets dribbled past too much but the truth is that he’s very good defensively. His counter pressing is world class, and he makes more interceptions than nearly everyone in the league. He’s also significantly above average at winning tackles and many other defensive statistics.

How the numbers show Jorginho plays. Courtesy of FBREF
How the numbers show Jorginho plays. Courtesy of FBREF

Source: FBREF

The point here is that every team needs a sitting player who will do the dirty, unglamourous work that wins you games. The fact of the matter is right now, Chelsea have only one player of this type, and it’s Jorginho.

You need a player of his profile

Thomas Tuchel has shown himself to be a tactically flexible manager, who tries to find different solutions to win each game. This means that throughout the season, there will be matches where you really need a midfielder of Jorginho’s profile. Someone who can keep the distances small, be comfortable receiving the ball in tight spaces and follow tactical instructions to a tee.

Jorginho has his physical limitations, and as a result, might not be relied upon in every match next season, but he is a profile that nearly all managers would love to have in their team.

It’s also a profile that isn’t readily available on the market. How many players can you think of that will perform that role of dictating a game from deep as well as Jorginho. It would be crazy to give that up easily, even with the arrival of a physically stronger defensive midfield players like Declan Rice, Aurelien Tchouameni, or Boubacar Kamara.

Age and Experience

Jorginho is 29. On the face of it this could be a reason to sell him but,, it’s one of the big reasons why Chelsea shouldn’t. He’s experienced.

Chelsea are a young team and with the rumoured arrivals of players like Achraf Hakimi, Erling Haaland and Rice, they are only getting younger. Sure, having a team full of 21-year-old wonderkids sounds great but this isn’t football manager, and you need more experienced players in there to balance the group. Jorginho is the perfect age right now as he’s young enough to still have a lot left in him, but he has the experience and knowhow to be a mentor and dressing room leader for Chelsea.

On top of this, Frank Lampard made Jorginho Chelsea’s vice-captain for a reason. Jorginho is hugely popular with the squad and comes over as a great personality to have on and off the pitch. You can see that in the way he directs play from the middle of the park and is one of our most vocal players. The celebrations in the stands alongside Thiago Silva and Mason Mount were also a nice touch and shows the camaraderie among the group that Jorginho is a massive part of.

As far as the benefit of experience goes, you could also look to the development of Billy Gilmour as a reason to keep Jorginho. The young Scot has played most of his football so far at the base of midfield in the same position as Jorginho and while he’s shown great promise, he is sometimes pressured by opposition into making costly mistakes. There is a lot he can learn from Jorginho as a kind of mentor figure and training and playing with him every day can only make Billy Gilmour a more technically accomplished player.

“When i watch games now i like to see Frenkie de Jong, Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho”

Billy Gilmour.

Jorginho: Proven in Europe and a Champions League winner

While Jorginho can sometimes struggle with the pace and physicality of the Premier League, he is particularly effective in European competitions. This could be seen in the Champions League victory and it’s no surprise that he was named man of the match in a couple of crucial knockout rounds. His ability to beat the press with his passing and touches, while being composed under pressure is so important in high stakes European games and makes him a good man to keep around the squad.

Just look at his excellent performance in the 2-0 home win over Real Madrid in the Champions League this season. Players like Casemiro, Toni Kroos, and Luka Modric couldn’t get near him, and he showed all of the value that he can provide in certain matches.

Squad depth

Towards the end of the season, the midfield became stretched due to the congested fixtures, and this will only be worse next year. Kante needs to be protected and can’t play every game, Kovacic tends to miss some matches with injuries and needs support next to him. Billy Gilmour is young and could be leaving on loan.

It is important to remember that Chelsea will probably play near enough to 70 games next season. There will be League games, domestic cup games, Champions League games, Club world cup games and even the super cup to play. It’s inevitable that Tuchel will have to rely a lot on Jorginho next season, even if he isn’t an uncontested starter like 2020-21 and another midfielder arrives.

It’s also worth looking at the type of squad depth. Having Jorginho allows Tuchel to utilize different tactical setups and systems. A midfield of Kante, Kovacic, Jorginho, Rice/Tchouameni/Kamara and Gilmour essentially covers all bases and allows adaptability in style of play to any opponent. It’s world class squad depth that puts the club at an advantage over nearly every team in world football on a tactical level.

Chelsea's divisive man in the middle, Jorginho. Credit | Getty Images
Chelsea’s divisive man in the middle, Jorginho. Credit | Getty Images

Jorginho-Kante partnership

A final reason to point to for not selling Jorginho is his partnership with N’golo Kante. Touched on earlier, they really get the best out of each other. Kante provides Jorginho with that defensive protection that he needs, while Jorginho sits deep and allows Kante to storm forwards with the ball. They have the kind of chemistry that has been built up over three years and is not easy to replace.

When you consider the fact that Kante is probably the club’s best player, it makes sense to do everything possible to get the best out of him. This means keeping players around him that work well and building relationships in the midfield. Keeping Jorginho is good for N’golo Kante and therefore good for Chelsea.

The case for selling Jorginho

In the interest of balance, it is worth looking at the case for selling Jorginho. Age as a factor has already been spoken about but there are other reasons why cashing in on Jorginho could be a good move this summer.

The first is that his stock is high right now. Jorginho was vice captain of a Champions League winning team this season, played a lot of minutes and is currently lighting up the Euro’s with top performances. This means Chelsea could potentially demand a high fee for the player. This might not be possible in future seasons as circumstances change and he gets older. While you would argue that the factors that make him easy to sell are also reasons why we should keep him, it’s certainly worth considering the financial benefits of cashing in.

Another reason you could look at for moving on Jorginho is that he’s a niche player that requires a certain style of play to express himself. Still, he’s proven that he fits the playstyle of Thomas Tuchel and works well for him.

Some people have said that he only works when protected by the back three but that isn’t strictly true. He’s worked well in a possession-based midfield three for Italy and for Maurizio Sarri at Napoli and Chelsea. He’s not suited to a more open style of play, but that isn’t what Tuchel is about, and Chelsea fans shouldn’t worry about Jorginho’s limitations in the immediate future.

Jorignho: The verdict

In closing, Jorginho is a very important player for Chelsea and should not be sold. That’s not to say he is without fault or will be a player who plays every game for the indefinite future but over a long season, he will be important and someone we shouldn’t take for granted.

Jorginho’s ability to control a game, be a dressing room leader and follow the tactical instructions of the manager is something Thomas Tuchel will love and is no doubt why he played so much last season. There is a need for a more traditional defensive midfielder, but Jorginho brings enough to keep himself in the squad.

Still, there will always be a need in the squad for a guy like Jorginho. He has proved himself time and time again this season and it feels like he is often held to different standards than other players. He deserves respect on his name, appreciate what he does and stop trying to force him out every time he has a poor performance, even when his overall form has been consistently good.


Written by CFCExtra (@CFCExtra)

Edited by Tom Coley (@tomcoley49)

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