“I feel very good with Maurizio Sarri, he’s a great teacher and I admire his philosophy of the game a lot,” Napoli midfielder Jorginho said back in November. “Yes, I think about the national team, but the Coach makes his choices. For me the most important thing is to do well with Napoli, then the Azzurri will follow as a result.”
After making just 14 league starts under former boss Rafael Benitez last season, the 24-year-old has made great strides since Sarri arrived from Empoli in the summer. Now a regular at club level, Jorginho has accepted the pivotal role in midfield from the new Coach, a decision which has become a key element to Napoli’s improved results this term.
The Brazilian-born player has made the highest number of passes in Europe this season, with almost 500 more than any other on the list. Making 102.7 attempts per game, he manages to find a team-mate with a staggeringly accurate 90.9% success rate.
Obviously his increased playing time and the Partenopei’s possession-based style under their new Coach are partially responsible for the leap in the former Hellas Verona man’s statistical output. But the confidence and self-belief he has shown under Sarri have also played their part and – with Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio ruled out until next season – Antonio Conte should now follow suit.
One criticism of his game would be his lack of goals. His last in Serie A came in December 2013 whilst still at Hellas Verona, and Jorginho has scored just once for Napoli, netting in a Coppa Italia fixture against Udinese back in January 2015. Yet that should not prevent him from taking a spot in Italy’s Euro 2016 squad, despite his agent admitting fears that the Napoli midfielder may still be overlooked this summer.
“I don’t think Marchisio’s injury changes anything, Jorginho has to continue to do well in these last few games,” said his representative Joao Santon. “There are five games to go, and Jorginho needs to play with the same determination and grit. After that there will be the chance of going to the European Championship, which he wants to play in.”
He may not be the next Xavi or Andrea Pirlo, but Jorginho is certainly closer to their level than any of the other mediocre midfield options available to the Azzurri.