After joining Napoli from Chievo, Jorginho found it difficult to really excel at San Paolo. There was even talk about the midfielder leaving last summer. Then Maurizio Sarri came in. Under the guidance of Sarri, the Brazilian born Italian international has developed into an incredible midfielder who now should be regarded as one of the best in Europe.

Jorginho was born in Brazil, but moved to Italy at a young age. As a 15-year-old he joined Hellas Verona’s academy in 2007. A few years later he spent a successful 2010/11 season on loan at AC Sambonifacese which prompted his inclusion in Verona’s first team squad for the 2011/12 season. After making his debut in September that year, he went on to establish himself and impressed so much that Rafa Benitez’ Napoli came calling in January 2014. Jorginho moved to San Paolo, and won the Coppa Italia with Napoli just a few months after joining, playing the full 90 minutes in the final against Fiorentina.

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The following season under Benitez saw Napoli struggle for large parts, and Jorginho didn’t perform to the high expectations, although didn’t perform badly. When Benitez left and Sarri appointed, the future looked unsure for Jorginho. Especially as Sarri brought his regista from Empoli, Mirko Valdifiori, with him to Napoli. Jorginho duly started the season on the bench, but after a slow start, both from the team and from Valdifiori, Jorginho got his start and he hasn’t looked back. His development has been extraordinary, from back-up to one of Europe’s best, most complete midfielders. A revelation in the regista role in Sarri’s highly entertaining and ultra-attacking 4-3-3, Jorginho has now been called up by Antonio Conte to the Italian national team and looks destined for the European championships this summer.

This season, no player in Europe passes the ball more than Jorginho. As per April 30, he has totalled 3159 passes, averaging 98.72 passes a game. Of these passes, more than 60% go forward, highlighting his desire to go forward with the ball. He’s always looking for the “opening” pass or the penetrating pass, the one which puts Gonzalo Higuain through on goal, Lorenzo Insigne in a one-on-one against the right-back or Marek Hamsik in-between the defensive lines of the opposition. He averages 1.72 chances created per game, a very good number for a defensive midfield player. Normally Jorginho positions himself just in front of the centre-backs Raul Albiol and Kalidou Koulibaly to create a triangle which serves as Napoli’s attacking base. From there, he controls the team’s attacking patterns beautifully, and successfully.

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Not only an exceptional passer of the ball, Jorginho has shown himself to be adept at breaking opposition lines through his running with the ball and dribbling as well as his constructive passing. Jorginho completes almost 79% of his take-ons, further emphasising his ability to beat players in central positions and to help Napoli break teams up. His excellent first touch and ability to shield the ball also helps him sustain intensive pressure to protect the ball and his dribbling and technique often sees him turn out of pressurised situations with the ball still under control, and glued to his right foot.

As he’s fielded as a defensive midfielder by Sarri, Jorginho needs to be good defensively, especially in a team as attacking as Napoli, with full-backs bombing on as well as the other two midfielders Allan and Hamsik joining the front three in attack. Jorginho averages 1.62 tackles won a game as well as 2.19 interceptions, both decent stats for a holding midfield player. Not record-breaking or remarkable in any way, but shows Jorginho is quietly effective too. Jorginho hasn’t made a single defensive error this season either, as per Squawka. Jorginho really is the complete midfielder.

Still relatively unknown outside Italy it won’t be long until the rest of Europe wakes up to the talent of Jorginho. He would seamlessly slot in at most of Europe’s top clubs due to the complete skillset he possesses, but possession-based sides as Arsenal and Manchester City with Pep Guardiola coming in would be a natural signing for both clubs. Whether or not Jorginho would want a move or not remains to be seen, as Napoli seemingly is on the way up under the guidance of Sarri. They’ve challenged Juventus this season and with a few additions in the summer they’ll surely challenge for the Scudetto next season also.

What’s certain is that Jorginho is an outstanding midfielder who is thriving at the minute, playing in front of one of the most fanatic fan bases in European football. Still only 24-years old, Jorginho has the world at his feet and has established himself as one of the best midfielders in Europe. Who knows, if Conte decides to throw him in at the Euro’s he might help guide Italy to a serious assault at the European championships trophy. It will be intriguing to watch where Jorginho’s career goes from here, because what seems certain is that this is just the start for European football’s top passer.

@DaveSelini

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