On 14 July 2018, Chelsea confirmed the signing of former Napoli midfielder Jorge Luiz Frello Filho, who is best known as Jorginho.
The news came just hours after the Blues announced Jorginho’s former boss, Maurizio Sarri, as their new manager, following the departure of fellow Italian Antonio Conte.
Jorginho, who has 22 caps for Italy, signed a five-year deal at Stamford Bridge and was a statement of how Chelsea intended to back new boss Sarri, with the pair experiencing three successful seasons together whilst in Naples.
Career before Chelsea
Jorginho came through the youth academy at Hellas Verona and made 89 league appearances for their first team. In January 2014, he moved to Napoli, and within his first year of joining they overcame Fiorentina to win the Italian Cup and beat Juventus to win the Italian Super Cup.
In the summer of 2015, Maurizio Sarri took over at the San Paolo Stadium and Jorginho instantly became a pivotal part of his system, based on high-intensity pressing and quick passing moves, Napoli’s style came to be known to many as ‘Sari-ball’.
Jorginho’s role in the system was to play as a defensive midfielder, with two more attacking midfielders just ahead of him, where he often started attacks by picking the ball up from the goalkeeper.
In the season prior to joining Chelsea, Jorginho made 39 appearances for Napoli in all competitions during a season which saw them narrowly miss out on the Serie A title to Juventus.
Debut season at Chelsea
Upon arrival at Stamford Bridge, Jorginho was one of the most sought-after central midfielders on the planet, with both Manchester City and Chelsea reporting interest.
Despite not being able to offer the Italian Champions League football, the 26-year-old chose to stay loyal to Sarri and follow him to West London.
Jorginho made an instant impact, as he scored on his Premier League debut with a penalty in a 3-0 win at Huddersfield Town, a game which saw the Italian international record a pass completion rate of 93.9%.
Jorginho continued to show the effects of ‘Sarri-ball’, in his third league game for Chelsea, a 2-1 win at Newcastle United, the Italian completed 158 passes which was a new record for a Chelsea player in the Premier League and second in the all-time standings.
Jorginho re-wrote yet another record in his sixth league game against West Ham United, as he broke the record for attempted passes with 180, which had been previously held by Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan.
Whilst making an impressive start to his time at Chelsea, Jorginho was subject to some criticism as his arrival meant N’Golo Kanté had been pushed forward from the defensive midfield role which he had made his own whilst at Leicester City, Chelsea and whilst winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup with France. Despite many Chelsea fans believing that Sarri was failing to get the best out of Kanté, the Italian boss remained stubborn and continued to play the Frenchman in a more advanced role.
In his first season at Stamford Bridge, Jorginho played 54 times for the Blues, missing just one league game all season, helping them to a third-placed finish in the Premier League, an EFL Cup final, and a UEFA Europa League.
With the departure of Maurizio Sarri at the end of last season, Jorginho may have felt his place in the Blues starting eleven could have been under threat. However, in the opening months of the season, new boss Frank Lampard put his faith in the Italian, and in October last year confirmed Jorginho as the vice-captain of his Chelsea side behind Cesar Azpilicueta.
Before the enforced break in the current season, Jorginho had played 26 of Chelsea’s 29 league games. Despite this, in the six games since football returned, Jorginho has only featured twice, coming on for the final minutes against Crystal Palace and then as part of a disappointing performance against Sheffield United.
However, with a long-term injury to Billy Gilmour and Kanté continuing to prove injury-prone, Chelsea may not be able to afford losing the Italian.
Nevertheless, with Chelsea’s system clearly no longer being based on the 28-year-old, if first-team minutes continue to be hard to come by, Jorginho could look for yet another reunion with former boss Maurizio Sarri who is currently in charge at Juventus.