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Jorginho – Guardiola’s New Midfield Metronome?

As this year’s seasons are ending around Europe, and titles are being decided, transfer rumours are starting to gain in intensity and frequency. In England, after a record-breaking season, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are now looking to the future. The first major rumour attributed to them has sighted on one of Serie A’s most impressive talents, Jorginho of Napoli.

Jorginho arrived at Napoli in January of 2014, for €10m, from Hellas Verona. Early in his time at Napoli, under Rafa Benitez, Jorginho struggled to find regular minutes, but upon the arrival of Maurizio Sarri in 2015, Jorginho transformed into the player we know today.

Where does Jorginho Play? 

Jorginho plays as the deepest central midfielder, in a 3-man midfield. At Napoli, he is currently anchored on either side by a midfielder who takes on more of a “destroyer” role in Allan, and ostensibly a “deep-lying 10” in Marek Hamsik. This setup does the following for Jorginho. It leaves him in a classic regista role, using one-touch passing to keep the play moving front to back, and side to side, always remaining in a position to receive passes and dictate play.

Currently, Manchester City adopt a similar 3-man midfield system, but with slight tactical differences. Fernandinho sits in a more traditional holding role, protecting his backline, giving both full-backs the necessary liberty to drive forward. If Jorginho were to sign for the Citizens, tactical tweaks would likely be in order, as Jorginho will need the support of a more box-to-box player to protect him occasionally.

What are Jorginho’s biggest strengths?

Distribution

Jorginho is one of the best distributors in Europe. His slick one-touch passing and his football IQ are perhaps his two strongest attributes. Often he is able to map out a move well before play has developed, and his natural instincts are one of those intangible things that are very hard to coach. Jorginho, in Napoli’s system, often drops between the two centre-backs in the initial build-up play, providing that clear metronomic outlet, and allowing Napoli’s high pressing and high defensive line to take shape.

Passing

He is also one of the most accurate passers on the continent. He currently rates highest in Europe’s top 5 divisions in terms of average passes per game (94.7), with a pass accuracy of 89.7%. Napoli has two other players in the top 10 in this category, their two starting central defenders, Raul Albiol (9th) and Kalidou Koulibaly (5th). Three Manchester City players also find themselves in the top 10 in the passes per game category: Otamendi (3rd), Fernandinho (4th), and David Silva (7th), respectively.

Defending

Jorginho’s ability to effectively undertake his defensive responsibilities is often an overlooked element of his game. Whilst not a large, physical man, he uses his extraordinarily impressive intuition to cut down passing lanes, and position himself effectively to help him defend whilst exerting the least amount of energy possible. This season, he averages about 1.5 interceptions per match, which is not at a N’Golo Kanté level (2.5), but still represents very good work for a player of his stature.

What are his weaknesses?

Physicality

You will be hard-pressed to find a central midfielder in 2018 who is entirely complete. Amongst Jorginho’s weaknesses are his physical play and tackling. When it comes to man-on-man or body-on-body situations, Jorginho can at times be pushed off the ball too easily, which should worry his Premier League suitors, with the latter division undoubtedly considerably more physical than Serie A. Further, in one-on-one defending situations, he is also prone to being caught out due to his reluctance to slide in and fully commit to a challenge.

Mental Lapses

At Napoli, he has shown a tendency to produce costly errors. This happened in the Champions’ League last season, in multiple matches, which in turn led to the emergence of Amadou Diawara. Jorginho is also a player who, when suffering from a slight dip in form, the period can be exacerbated by the Italian getting down on himself. He has been very comfortable at Napoli for a while, so it will be intriguing to see how potential new scenery will affect him mentally. 

Overall

If you are a Manchester City fan, the idea of Jorginho at the Ethiad Stadium next season should get you pretty excited. A world-class passer with an exceptional ability to read the game, Jorginho should fit almost perfectly into Pep Guardiola’s style of play. With a slight shift in tactical set-up required, if Jorginho does move to Manchester, he could easily become another jewel for a great manager in Guardiola.

K.C.

 

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