The bubble seems to have finally burst in football, with big-money transfers set to make way for player swaps in the post-pandemic age. Juventus are likely to be at the forefront, given their dire need to streamline a squad with no shortage of deadwood and find the missing piece to their midfield jigsaw. Both factors explain why they are so keen to bring in Jorginho from Chelsea, even if it means giving up on Federico Bernardeschi.
Jorginho is the key to Juve getting the best out of Maurizio Sarri’s reign. The 28-year-old’s face struggled to fit at Napoli until the arrival of the coach in 2015 saw him become a crucial component for the Partenopei, dictating play as their deep-lying playmaker, expertly shielded by Allan and Marek Hamsik. The trio were inseparable for the following three seasons, yet it was the Italo-Brazilian who made the southerners tick.
Inevitably he followed Sarri to Chelsea in the summer of 2018, replacing N’Golo Kante - the Premier League’s best ball-winner - at the base of the Blues’ control room. The move was almost universally panned by English pundits and even saw Jorginho booed by his own fans, but the tactician stuck by him and they went on to win the Europa League together. He has since come into his own under Frank Lampard, proving he is no one-trick pony.
With Miralem Pjanic failing to convince as the ‘regista’ in Turin and agent Joao Santos regularly issuing the Old Lady pleas to make an offer for his client, the role is there for Jorginho’s taking. Whereas Pjanic insists on slowing Juve’s game down and is incapable of pressing high up the pitch, the former Verona man retrieves and recycles possession with razor-sharp efficiency. He also understands exactly what is required from Sarri.
That leaves Bernardeschi, who is in desperate need of a change of scenery. Heralded as Juve’s future when he signed from Fiorentina in 2017 for €40m, his best position remains something of a mystery and he has paid the price for his versatility. Although he excelled as a left-footed right winger at Fiorentina, he has gone on to play in every midfield and attacking position for the Bianconeri, including centre-forward and ‘mezz’ala’.
However, Chelsea are the perfect club on paper for him to realise his potential out wide. The Londoners have failed to replace Eden Hazard and are set to lose both Pedro and Willian on free transfers this summer, which is where Bernardeschi comes in. Powerful, pacey and proficient on the ball, the 26-year-old has what it takes to become a genuine Premier League star and the next Italian icon to grace Stamford Bridge.
There is also the prospect of Lampard restoring Kante to his rightful position of holding midfielder, which will in turn give more space to the likes of Mason Mount and Billy Gilmour breaking through. The imminent arrival of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax will also help fill the creative void left by Jorginho’s move to Juve, albeit in a more advanced position on the field, without taking into account what Bernardeschi can offer as an outlet.
Chelsea may disagree with Juve’s reported €40m valuation of Jorginho, but they will also be aware that they may live to regret passing up on a player who could be their next wing wizard, plus Italy will also stand to benefit from a revitalised Bernardeschi ahead of Euro 2020 next year, as well as their midfield metronome back playing under his mentor. Unlike some of the other exchange deals being floated around, this one makes total sense.
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