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Scouting Chelsea-linked Jorginho, Napoli’s €60m midfield metronome maestro

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The brains of Napoli’s well-oiled “vertical tiki-taka”

After a wonderful season at Napoli, Jorginho, who was one of the key players for the Partenopei’s great run in the Scudetto this season, seems to finally be on his way to the Premier League. At least that’s what The Times think, as in their report published last night, they’ve linked not one, not two, but all top-six Premier Clubs with the Ita-zilian midfielder, stating that Napoli have set an asking price of €60 million (£52.9 million).

It’s a testament to Jorginho’s ability that even after scoring just three goals (and adding only four assists), all the top teams believe him to be a great signing and are apparently ready to put their money where their mouth is.

Jorginho’s importance to Sarri’s “vertical tiki-taka” in his Regista role cannot be overstated. In a system that’s extremely reliant on passing, Jorginho’s passing numbers are not only one of the best in Europe but they’re also head and shoulders above his own teammates as well.

Jorginho plays as the regista/deep-lying playmaker, in a 3-man midfield at Napoli, surrounded by Allan in a more of a destroyer role and Hamsik in a more creative role. It’s his technique, vision and passing which sets the tempo for Napoli’s unique system which has the rest of the Europe fawning over him.

Outside of technical skills, it’s his footballing IQ and his ability to read the game that allow him to pick out the best pass in any given situation. Sarri may be the mastermind off the field but on the field, it’s Jorginho who is the brain of this well-oiled Napoli machine.

Defensively, Jorginho relies on using his impressive intuition and reading of the game to cut down passing lanes and position himself effectively. For instance, Jorginho has made 1.82 interceptions per 90 minutes this season as compared to Fabregas who has made around 0.88 interceptions per 90 minutes. Normally, it’s the midfielder in a less possession-oriented team who has more interceptions since his team has less of the ball, but in this situation it’s the opposite due to Jorginho’s better defensive nous.

If there was ever a doubt that Chelsea needed to invest in a better central midfielder, this season should have squashed all of them, game-by-game, loss-by-loss, draw-by-draw. N’Golo Kante has been holding the midfield together single-handedly through his sheer will, determination and his ability to be omnipotent.

Tiémoué Bakayoko still seems to be finding his own feet in a new system, new country and new league while Fabregas seems to be declining in all aspects but his ability to create key passes. His total forward passes, successful passes, defensive errors, assists, goals scored and successful take-ons have all been the worst since he has joined (all stats are per 90 minutes) while in other facets, he seems to be declining as well. His passing percentage of 82.4 in Champions League and 83.5 in Premier League this season have been the lowest since he joined Barcelona back in 2011.

Declining Fabreas

Chelsea’s need for Jorginho is quite clear. Chelsea already have one of the world’s best midfielders and pairing him up with a great deep-lying midfielder who complements Kante’s more robust, active role is a no-brainer. It would give Chelsea one of the best midfield duos in the league. Unfortunately, a player of Jorginho’s ilk is going to be in demand and Chelsea are unlikely to end up qualifying for Champions League, which will not help our potential pursuit.

The Times’ report also goes on to state that Manchester City, who saw what Jorginho can do first-hand in their Champions League encounters against Napoli this season, have extensively scouted the midfielder as they look to continue replacing older players, such as the 33-year-old Fernandinho, with younger excellence. Manchester City have previously pipped Chelsea to the signings of Aguero, Robinho, Danilo, Kyle Walker (who Chelsea made a last ditch effort to sign in the previous summer transfer window) and their manager himself, Pep Guardiola, who Roman tried to sign not once but twice. Whenever Manchester City are seriously involved, Chelsea seem to come off second best.

And that’s before we get to the other supposedly interested teams, such as Liverpool — who are losing Emre Can and gaining their own Kanté in Naby Keita — and Manchester United, who are always interested in the best of the best, but have a need to replace Michael Carrick and possibly also the underutilized Ander Herrera.

However, there is a silver lining to all this. According to the report, Jorginho has told his teammates that Maurizio Sarri would love to take him to Chelsea as his days as a Napoli manager seem to be coming to an end.

Yes, please.