Chelsea overpaid for Jorginho and Kepa Arrizabalaga last summer. They will only a take a loss on one of them, so Maurizio Sarri will have to work all his magic on the Juventus board if he wants to reunite with Jorginho.
A few times during the transfer window we talked about how agents were commonly the source of transfer rumours, not necessarily because they were immediately shopping for a transfer but to create leverage for upcoming contract negotiations and perhaps a future transfer. Since the window is now over and his client has three more years on his contract, Jorginho’s agent isn’t bothering with a whisper campaign. He’s just out there saying he’s open to anything worthwhile that could take Jorginho away from Chelsea.
It’s the “worthwhile” that will prevent any move from happening. Joao Santos, the agent, may be satisfied with a commission somewhere close to what he received when Chelsea paid £57 million for Jorginho. But the Blues will not take a loss on Jorginho if they are weighing the possibility of taking a much larger loss on Kepa Arrizabalaga.
And they would take a loss on Jorginho, unless Maurizio Sarri somehow did his thing again.
In the sort of PowerPoint-friendly, corporate d**che-bro terms a banker would understand, Maurizio Sarri seems far more adept at B2B communications than B2C.
While he struggles to communicate on the level with his players, sometimes foregoing communicating at all with them, as a former bank manager himself, Sarri has successfully pitched himself beyond his accomplishments to the boards of Chelsea FC and Juventus, convincing those clubs to open their checkbooks to secure his services. At Chelsea, that involved getting the club to pay £57 million for Jorginho as a tacit condition of hiring Sarri. To whatever extent objective valuations factor in to transfer decisions, and regardless of what you think of Jorginho, this was more than he was worth to anyone other than Sarri and a club trying to hire Sarri.
Just under a month after signing Jorginho for a 10-20% mark-up, Chelsea asked him to hold all of their beers as they paid £72 million for Kepa Arrizabalaga. His premium is best measured in multiples rather than percentages, the product of what Liverpool paid for Allison, the prolonged poor handling for Thibaut Courtois’ dissatifaction and, well, who knows what else.
Two players, one a prerequisite and the other a sort of welcome gift, for £129 million.
The pair were going to need to be absolutely essential for multiple trophy-winning seasons to “work off” those fees, or Chelsea were going to need to find a club with a bluish sense of business acumen to pay a similar or greater amount for them. Otherwise, they would take an overall loss.
Maurizio Sarri might be the only person with the motivation and persuasive gifts to convince his club to pay Chelsea more than £57 million for Jorginho. And he’s at a club that has that kind of money, especially if they take his recommendations on who to sell this summer.
The other question is whether Jorginho would want to reunite with his former patron.
Jorginho has grown more in the last eight months than he did in the previous few years. His progress and development was visible throughout the first half of the season, and was remarkable and commendable for a player his age.
He has spoken several times about how much more freedom he has in his game. By not being the focal point of play out from the back and recycling in the final third, he can move into different positions and not be so effectively and conspicuously muzzled the opponent’s marking. He is four goals and two assists this season, tied for the second-best goal contribution of his career. His only more productive season was the year before he moved to Napoli.
Jorginho may also not want to join Sarri as a “traitor” in the eyes of Napoli fans. Sarri compounded his treachery among the Neapolitans by joining Juventus, and if he wins Serie A with them, expect the bitterness to go up to 11. Aurelio de Laurentiis may be the voice of restraint compared to his ticket holders.
Even if Maurizio Sarri can prevail over the Juventus board to let Chelsea turn a profit on Jorginho, Jorginho may tell Joao Santos not to sign those papers but to use the offer as leverage for another club.
It’s hard to think Chelsea would turn down a profitable offer for Jorginho given how it would likely be the only one they would ever receive. Jorginho will not be as critical to any manager other than Sarri, and with players like Billy Gilmour, Conor Gallagher and maybe even Ruben Loftus-Cheek making their way towards a first team already full of midfielders, Frank Lampard will not have to depend on Jorginho by default, as he has this season.
But again, that’s all assuming there is an offer.
If Chelsea sell Kepa Arrizabalaga on his current form, they will take a massive financial hit. Any other sale they make will have to return a significant profit as they will have enough red ink on the ledger.
There’s only one realistic possibility for a profitable offer for Jorginho, and it’s the one the player himself may be the least interested in. Like most other agent-sourced transfer rumours, this one is doing everything but presaging the transfer.