Roma’s Radja Nainggolan and Napoli’s Marek Hamsik are among the many gifted central midfielders that come to mind in Serie A. Needing no introduction, the two shoulder leadership responsibilities while also impacting their unit from the moment they step on to the pitch. However, for other class-A players like Jorginho, it takes a bit more mindfulness of his talent to grasp what a superbly gifted playmaker he truly is.
Before his move to Napoli in January 2014, Jorginho plied his trade at Hellas Verona, spending seven years honing his skills. Then-Milan CEO Adriano Galliani courted the 25-year-old, doing all within his power – and confines of the club’s working budget - to bring him to San Siro.
Since arriving at the San Paolo under Rafa Benitez, Jorginho has been somewhat overlooked, despite supplying his every manager with the luxury of versatility. A tremendous understanding of each midfield role, Jorginho’s profile is a Coach’s dream, especially for Maurizio Sarri, who tactically operates differently to the average boss.
Sturdiness and composure on the ball makes Jorginho difficult to dispossess. These qualities translate extremely well in a ball-winning role, or at the base as a deep-lying playmaker where he can freely distribute with accuracy, and comfortably dictate tempo due to increased time on the ball.
Jorginho, strangely, has earned a cult following of sorts in foreign areas for these exact traits, notably from England where Premier League advocates have the utmost confidence in his skill-set being of great use to several top clubs.
Analytically, Jorginho’s main midfield statistics - more or less – stack up quite well with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti and Milan’s newest string-pulling regista Lucas Biglia. Last season, the Napoli man’s pass completion (91%) was slightly better than both Verratti (89%) and Biglia (87%) in a per 90 metric rating. Additionally, his interceptions per 90 metric (2.19) fell slightly under the ex-Lazio playmaker (2.30), but were well above the Parisian star (0.92).
Whether it’s been under Benitez, Mazzarri or current boss Sarri, the Brazilian-born Jorginho has always maintained a certain level of professionalism, even if he knows his exploits merit a starting spot. Seldom does a player so well-rounded like Jorginho find himself battling for recognition, but perhaps it’s motivated him to press on and prove his worth year in and year out.
As we enter a World Cup year, Jorginho will no doubt look to outplay the perceived super-sub label that’s been placed upon him over the years in Naples, and emerge as one of Italian football’s truly elite midfielders.
Should Jorginho rise to the occasion and become Napoli’s key cog in a possible Scudetto run, there is reason to believe Italy Coach Giampiero Ventura will bring him to Russia next summer. Holding just two international caps to his name with the Azzurri, 2017-18 could be the year Jorginho breaks out – for both club and country – and finally gets the proper credit he deserves.