After months of speculation in the media surrounding his future at the club, manager Maurizio Sarri’s era as Napoli boss came to an end earlier this past week as president Aurelio De Laurentiis announced the chainsmoking Italian tactician would no longer be in charge.
Sarri, who has been at the helm of the Partenopei since 2015, transcended the way Napoli football was played with an aesthetically pleasing brand that earned widespread praise and plaudits across continental Europe. This past season, Sarri’s Napoli became the only club in Serie A history to earn 90+ points in a campaign and not win the title, leading many to believe that perhaps now was the time to make a switch and bring in a coach who can get the Neapolitans over the hump and finally, dethrone Juventus atop the podium as Italian champions.
On Thursday, Carlo Ancelotti was introduced in a series of social media posts as the new manager, bringing with him an impressive CV and extensive coaching experience that covers each of Europe’s top five leagues.
The 58-year old has won three UEFA Champions League titles (AC Milan: 02-03, 06-07; Real Madrid: 13-14), as well as four league titles, so this is quite the coup for Napoli who are in need of a mentality shift and winning attitude if they are to lift their first Scudetto since the 1989-90 season.
It is assumed that before Ancelotti committed to Napoli on a three-year deal and reported €5 million annual salary, De Laurentiis provided him certain sporting guarantees and decision-making power with regards to both his squad and the transfer policy this summer. But with the club having built such a high reputation over the past few years under Sarri for the system with which several players have grown into top class footballers, many European outfits are now circling around in hopes of prying away some of their best talent; including midfield controller Jorginho.
The 26-year old Brazilian-Italian orchestrator moved over to Napoli from Hellas Verona back in 2014, and has been at the heart of the club ever since; pulling the strings at the base of the midfield as the ‘regista’ and stealthily growing into one of the game’s top deep-lying playmakers. But, it wasn’t until this past season where Jorginho’s importance became much more prevalent, as his ability to control the tempo and overall proceedings in the ‘centrocampo’ went mainstream and gained the curiosity of Europe’s elite.
The recent Azzurri commit has been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City over the past few months, and with Sarri possibly moving into the Chelsea job to replace Antonio Conte, perhaps you can even toss them into the sweepstakes for his services.
Ancelotti is only days into his new gig at Napoli, and will spend some time assessing who fits his scheme and who doesn’t. Yet, it goes without saying that Jorginho has already carved a spot for himself in the starting XI should he stay – regardless of which tactical shape ‘Carletto’ opts for. But Jorginho’s 2017-18 metrics cannot be overlooked in this either, as he passes both the numbers and eye test.
According to Squawka’s Comparison Matrix, Jorginho boasted mightily impressive per 90 metrics of 94.44 successful passes, 89% completion and 14.45 metres in pass length.
Besides being equipped with the ability to spray the ball around the park with precision, dictate play, and prove difficult to dispossess, Jorginho’s quick transitions from the defensive to attacking phases makes him as valuable as any component Ancelotti will have in his midfield next season.
There is an argument to be made that selling Jorginho for a lofty sum would allow youngster Amadou Diawara to take over in that same role, but entrusting the Guinean in Ancelotti’s first year at the club may pose as a risk even with his obvious talent to become world class somewhere down the road. And when you take into account that captain Marek Hamsik took a step back last year, this midfield needs someone to hold it down with experience and piece together consistent build-ups that produce a stream of chances; Jorginho is that guy, but in a deeper role.
Despite De Laurentiis’ high asking price exceeding €70 million, the consensus amongst football fans is that Pep Guardiola will do all he can to lure the methodical dictator to the Etihad Stadium. The Spaniard identifies his ranging skill-set as ideal for his system, and the idea of playing under Guardiola is certainly a draw that Jorginho may find difficult to pass up. However, if Ancelotti’s past dealing with Andrea Pirlo, Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso tells us anything, it’s that the eyebrow-raising Italian would lean on a more polished player like Jorginho in somewhat of a similar manner rather than opting for a younger Diawara who is still not quite finished developing.
Ancelotti and Napoli would be wise to resist the lucrative bids from those clubs and instead, make Jorginho the centerpiece of his midfield.
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