If Jorginho was one of Verona’s three Magi, alongside Luca Toni and Juan Iturbe, following the Serie A star of European places, then surely he was the one who brought the gold. And whether he delivered it himself as top-scorer with seven goals, or produced it for others with his four assists, his gift saw him become a shining star himself, admired far and wide.
So when Napoli Coach Rafa Benitez signed one of the season’s revelations this January, he stole a march on many top European clubs. The 22-year-old midfielder made his debut in the home game with Chievo and showed just why teams like Chelsea, Juve, Inter and Liverpool wanted him. Replacing Blerim Dzemaili just before the hour mark, a couple of touches and he drove his first shot just beyond a post. He looked confident on the ball and with 56 touches, including two efforts that were blocked, inside 34 minutes he was easily the busiest player and capped a clever cameo by forcing a corner off a defender.
Of course after just a third of a game it is impossible to make any judgments but we can analyse his time with Verona. In 18 appearances for Hellas this season he made an astounding 63 passes per game, a good 20 more than anyone else in the team and just two less than his hero Andrea Pirlo. With 1.4 key passes a game he was second only to Romulo’s 1.6, while also coming third as the player with the most tackles per game.
Yet he is not just a playmaker and likes to move around the midfield. “I like to cover more roles,” he admitted. “I try to always be in the thick of things, two touches and then go, simple things. I get forward and run a lot, roughly 12 kilometres a match.”
Jorginho also has one of the most outstanding average pass accuracies in Serie A at 86.1 per cent, while creating a total of 25 opportunities this season. Certainly if he continues with such creativity and consistency he should become an excellent addition to the Napoli squad.
Of course he knows he will have to adapt to Benitez’s preferred 4-2-3-1 system but on past performances for Verona that shouldn’t prove too difficult. Certainly his games have shown that the Italo-Brazilian has pace, intelligence and like hummingbirds hunting pollen, was forever on the move. He is also not without certain coolness when taking penalties, converting five out of five for Verona. In Week 8’s defeat of Parma he converted twice, the second scored in the last minute under tremendous pressure at 2-2 to win the game, 3-2.
Such qualities were noticed by the Azzurrini Coach Devis Mangia and although born in Brazil he qualifies for Italy via a great grandfather. He was called up to play for the Under-21s last summer but a delay in receiving clearance saw him only debut later in the year. “I feel Italian,” insisted the youngster who arrived as a gifted trialist in Italy when just 15 years old. “I dream of playing and winning a World Cup with La Nazionale.”
He certainly possesses the best traits of both countries and can leave defenders in his wake like a ballerina dancing past Hippopotami lumbering into their death falls.
Given his talent and fitness, spending €5.5m to get his co-ownership rights is a very good piece of business. Of course there is still a few i’s to dot in the summer and even if it takes the same amount again he should still prove to be the jewel in the crown.