Despite rumors of a potential split of Jorginho and Chelsea, the midfielder captained the Blues and got them up and running this season.
After an up and down start to his Chelsea career, Jorginho has played in a manner that shows he is quickly becoming indispensable to Frank Lampard’s side. There are likely few players that have faced the adversity that the midfielder has faced since he arrived with Maurizio Sarri in 2018. The Italian was brought in to be the fulcrum in a fluid, quick passing Chelsea team; yet, anyone who watched the Blues under Sarri could see they were far from that.
Repeatedly, Jorginho would lose the ball, be shrugged off by opposing players or give away fouls in order to slow play after losing the ball. Derided by Chelsea fans, most thought he would leave with Sarri to Juventus. Indeed, even when his departure didn’t immediately follow Sarri to Turin, many assumed it would only be a matter of time. His agent did little to distance the player from a move up until Sarri was subsequently sacked by Juventus.
With Sarri no longer employed, it looks as if Jorginho is going to be staying in Chelsea blue for the foreseeable future. While many have grumbled at that prospect, Jorginho has quietly become a crucial, and indispensable, member of Lampard’s squad.
As Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz arrived at Stamford Bridge—and a potential deal for Declan Rice constantly swirling the rumour mill, it appears on the face of things Jorginho would be the odd man out. Both Ziyech and Havertz are playmakers who usually operate further forward or on the wings, but both have the ability to play in the midfield. If Lampard wants to get all of his new arrivals in, plus the likes of Christian Pulisic when he returns from injury, the most likely candidate to drop out will be Jorginho.
Despite not playing in an as advanced role, Jorginho’s primary role within the team was to act as a playmaker, a distributor and that clicking metronome in the heart of the park. The playmaking and distributing duties have since fallen to Ziyech and Havertz while Lampard’s reliance on Mason Mount lends credence to the notion that he is now the desired pacemaker of the team.
Furthermore, Jorginho is hardly a physical player. With the likes of Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and—of course—N’Golo Kante, more question marks over what Jorginho will bring to the team arise. Yes, he can be rash at times; yes, in many ways this Chelsea team doesn’t need him for his most obvious assets in his vision and passing. However, Lampard understands Jorginho’s role better than anyone else. It is a crucial role not dissimilar to the one that Michael Ballack played for the Blues when he arrived at the club.
Of course the calibre and style of Ballack and Jorginho is not close, but their role in the team as the experienced presence that can make it count when it matters most, is exactly the same. When Ballack joined Chelsea he was past his prime, but still able to contribute effectively. More than that, he could be counted on to be the veteran presence in a team that featured a lot of rising stars. Lampard was one of those players in the team that Ballack helped support, so he knows how crucial that kind of player is to make a good team much better.
Now look to Jorginho, Lampard has picked up on this special set of qualities and is embracing it. His experience is vital having played at the elite level in Serie A and the Premier League, as well as numerous caps for his country. Just look to big games last year and if Chelsea was unstable, Lampard turned to Jorginho to be a calming influence on the side. All of this goes beyond his football. He may not be the perfect midfielder, but his level of competitiveness is one that Chelsea have sometimes lacked, and his presence brings out the best in his teammates.
The Italian is seemingly well liked in the dressing room, featuring numerous times across Chelsea’s social media channels as well as in player’s Instagram videos. As has been mentioned before, he is an older head in a young team and that is fundamental. Further, he’s the club’s vice captain.
The same move was made by bringing in Thiago Silva. Silva is by no means the player he was during his peak at PSG, but he knows his way around a football pitch. He is that stabilizing, calming presence and Lampard has realized that is what Jorginho can bring to a midfield that has only become younger with Havertz’s addition and Billy Gilmour’s rise. Perhaps that substitute role, coming on at 60 minutes or so, is perfect for the Italian now. Lampard clearly values what he brings to the team, do not underestimate what he provides.
Jorginho may not be loved, he may not be an automatic starter in this team, but he still has his moments of class. It goes to show that he is also the team’s designated penalty taker and he has not missed in Chelsea blue.
There have been so many questions about what this Chelsea team needs, whether it be a new defender, creative player, defensive midfielder or a new goalkeeper. The team can address all of those concerns, and indeed it did most of that in the transfer market. While a new goalkeeper still divides opinion, what cannot be understated is the Blues’ need for experienced heads to mix with the youth.
The youthful revolution under Lampard was a success during the first phase, now it is time for part two and that means bringing those young players like Mount, Gilmour, James and Pulisic into perfect cohesion with the older Ziyech, Azpilicueta, Silva and Jorginho.
It will take time, but this Chelsea team is much better with Jorginho as an integral member than without him, and with a sprinkling of that new German stardust on the team, clearing space in the trophy cabinet for this year is a real possibility.