Jorginho, not Fred, is the real deal in Manchester
As was the case with Alexis Sanchez, Fred seemed destined for Manchester City before Pep Guardiola took his famous U-turn. Unlike with the Chilean, however, he toured that path for a superior talent: Jorginho.
Maurizio Sarri may be jobless at the moment, but he will surely be missed far beyond Naples. The enigmatic, chain-smoking coach is credited with cleansing an extremely messy, rigid and polluted Italian game. Even headstrong Fabio Capello was humbled.
Every 20 years there is an innovation in football. After Ajax there was Arrigo Sacchi's Milan, then Pep Guardiola, who rather sent football to sleep. But fortunately, we now have Maurizio Sarri — who can finally wake football up.
It wasn’t easy reawakening an almost lifeless brand, though. Napoli, like every other Serie A side, were unnecessarily cautious; bereft of creative spark nor invention. They just played and took everything that came along. That's what you get with Rafael Benitez in charge, anyway.
At Empoli, Sarri proved a firm disciple of attacking football. With a slick attractive ethos, he guided the Tuscan-based side to top-flight. To make a similar impact in his homeland, the 59-year-old required an unflappable signal-controller. Being a manager who rarely speeds off to the market, he opted to craft one himself: he came up with Jorginho.
Jorginho had been in Campania around 18 months earlier. But he didn’t quite blossom under Benitez who played him out of position - on the right-hand side of a 4-2-3-1 formation. Jorginho was left frustrated most times, if not always.
He changed our approach to the game, trying long ball. I suffered.
The relationship between Jorginho and Sarri was mutual. They helped each other achieve goals. The Brazilian-born Italian was afforded good football in exchange for his creative blend of skills. It is not hard to see why Guardiola mauled over Fred's pursuit in his favour.
A typical regista, the 26-year-old was the brain behind everything productive at Stadio San Paolo. He orchestrated play from deep, utilising wall passes and flicks to blitz man-marking schemes in the middle. His clipped through balls were a true delight, creating clear-cut chances every game.
Jorginho averaged almost 98 passes per match — the most in the division. Nearly 90 percent of those were perfectly done. According to Opta, he holds nine of the top 10 spots for most successful passes played in any given match. He's unchallenged for most touches, too.
He may not top the goal or assists charts, though, not when he's far too busy stitching passes together. However, he would occasionally take up the burden – as he did four times last season and two more when he laced them for teammates.
Fred isn’t terrible, either. He is capable of crafting those brilliant forward passes from deep positions too, dictating play quite as effective as Jorginho. Owing to his physique, pace and energy, the Brazilian may have offered more defensively, enhancing the team's balance. But isn't that what Fernandinho already bring to the table?
Besides, Jorginho is a tad more technical which makes him suited to City. Guardiola hasn't hidden his admiration for the Italian. He even went as far as describing the 26-year-old as “wonderful” before last season's Champions League meeting. With Taya Toure out of the picture, it will be wise to bring the energetic midfielder to Eastlands. Manchester United made things easier, taking out Fred.
Both players could potentially square up in next season's Manchester derby. Games like that are where the 26-year-old would prove he's the city's real deal.