Jorginho‘s £57 Million transfer was announced shortly after Maurizio Sarri’s appointment to signal the new era at Chelsea. The Brazil-born Italy International elected to follow his Napoli manager to London rather than Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
After his first few games; the deep-lying playmaker had revealed himself to be a pass master but one who lacked the physicality to defend. The midfielder surpassed many passing statistics with his crisp passing and dictating of the team’s play, but predictably got found out as the weak link in the defensive phase. Soon enough, opponents nullified the team’s threat by man-marking its orchestrator and results suffered.
In this tactical analysis, we look at the statistics and how Jorginho fared last season and why it wasn’t a total failure.
Jorginho is a technically-gifted deep-lying playmaker who specialises in directing his team’s play and dictating tempo on and off the ball. His ability to break the opponents’ press, keep play ticking by recycling possession, dictate the high-press; and provide through balls for advanced players make him a vital cog in the manager’s philosophy. With 3,118 passes, the most in the league, 84.27 passes per game, 0.8 key passes per game; all from an 89.3% pass success indicate that he does the simple things very well.
His skill set makes his contributions extremely understated; his lack of physicality ensured he looked awkward for a deep midfielder. During Chelsea’s run of poor results midway through the season, Jorginho was scapegoated for his perceived lack of defensive qualities. Jorginho yet again posed surprising defensive numbers; 76 (50%) tackles, five blocked shots, 63 interceptions, 35 clearances, 21 headed clearances, 274 recoveries, 125 (46%) duels won, 15 successful 50/50s, 13 aerial battles won and 21 lost without an error leading to goal is surely impressive.
A lack of attacking output was another criticism of the maestro, with Rio Ferdinand famously saying; “He can’t run. So he doesn’t give you anything defensively, and he doesn’t give you anything at the other end of the pitch”.
Jorginho ended the season with two league goals, one a penalty, but his numbers tell a story of those around him. Shooting accuracy of 37% bearing 19 shots and seven on target, six big chances created, 0.8 key passes per game 50% cross accuracy, 34 through balls and 92 accurate long balls; indicate that his lack of assists is down to the wastefulness of his teammates. Chelsea missed the second-most big chances in the season (61) and were joint first for hitting the post (21).
Where does Jorginho rank?
Having provided his statistics throughout the league season; Jorginho is matched up against midfielders who play similar roles for their teams.
Fernandinho is the deep midfielder in Manchester City’s ultra-attacking team and is tasked with recovering the ball. His three assists better Jorginho’s output but the Chelsea man created more big chances (six to four), completed more passes 89.22%–87.46% and forward passes 1,016 to 583, and more through balls 34 to 13.
We have further added the statistics of İlkay Gündoğan who played the role in Fernandinho’s injury absence. Jorginho managed more blocks (7), interceptions (63) and tackles (76) but Fernandinho won more tackles (43), clearances (69), headed clearances (47) and aerial battles (77). Jorginho also proved to do the most running with 406.10 kilometres and 10.98 kilometres per game; Fernandinho committed the most fouls (40), seven more than Jorginho and Gündoğan (13).
Most of the criticism of Jorginho’s fledgling performances was unfounded as they are only based on what the eyes see. The regista is very far from a flashy player capable of lung-busting runs and eye-catching skills; albeit an effective performer who is firmly an unsung hero. His passing statistics are the best in the country and defensively he has bettered celebrated counterparts in his position; posting respectable attacking numbers for his position with evidence of his efforts being wasted.
After the first year of a massive misunderstanding of his qualities and subsequent criticism, Jorginho’s mastery of his art shone through. Chelsea are going to the Champions League and a European final with Jorginho at the very heart of their play.
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