Jorginho proving Chelsea fans wrong
Background photo: Neajjean, CC BY-SA 2.0
Maurizio Sarri didn't expect such a rough ride when he left the San Paolo for Stamford Bridge in 2018. Neither did his poster boy. Brazilian-born Italian international Jorginho was the midfield engine in Sarri's Napoli squads that challenged Juventus' ironclad Serie A rule. The Azzurri finished with 2,782 passes in the Premier League last season but his lack of assists drew heavy criticism from Chelsea supporters and neutrals alike. Nevertheless, he stuck it out after Sarri departed.
The pair were subjected to intense scrutiny throughout a campaign in which the club finished third in the Premier League, as runners-up in the League Cup and Europa League champions. Sarri-ball was considered sluggish and unsuitable to the Premier League in the same manner that critics opposed Pep Guardiola's arrival even though the Italian was far more successful in his debut campaign than the Catalan.
Jorginho's Held his place in the team throughout the campaign, displacing highly popular d-mid N'Golo Kante. That went down even worse than the playing style. Kante had been the rock on which the Blues built their 2016/17 title campaign.
Although Chelsea began the season on a promising note, they couldn't maintain momentum. When they hit the inevitable rough patch, the vultures were waiting. Sarri was made to face hell in London and to do so without the soothing comfort of a lit cigarette to calm his nerves.
When Sarri won the Europa League, outclassing rival Arsenal boss Unai Emery who had thrice won the competition, he was suddenly wanted. The outpouring of love was too little, too late, however. Despite the fact Jorginho stayed and made clear his intent to honour his five-year deal, he remained unwelcome.
He didn't follow Sarri and new manager Frank Lampard is grateful. Under the Chelsea legend, the unwanted midfielder has upped his game. Whereas he was largely invisible despite his influence on the Blues' possession and defending, he is suddenly standing out. His vision and precision are finding appreciation where they once knew only ridicule.
With the freedom to move forward and play more direct passes, he has transformed from the sideways passer Sarri moulded into a man who looks to push defenders onto their heels. Lampard is getting the best out of him. With 20 tackles, three blocks, 18 interceptions, and seven clearances to his name so far, Jorginho is arguably the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League. At the other end, he's bagged a goal and an assist from six dribbles, six shots and nine key passes in eight matches. [Transfermarkt]
In the recent encounter with Brighton, the Italian took his game to another level as he completed more passes in the opposition half ) and also played more passes into the final third  than any other Chelsea player.
The fans sing his praises from the stands. Others highlight his brilliance on social media. Jorginho is finally winning fans over. He's gone from undesirable to indispensable and supporters are happy to eat their words.
Following Lampard's decision to make him the vice-captain of the team, it appears he has a big role to play. His club now treats him like his adopted country does.
Jorginho is a key player in Roberto Mancini's squad. Surrounded by Nicolo Barella, Stefano Sensi and Marco Verratti, the Chelsea superstar anchors the Azzurri midfield. His goal against Finland in September garnered three points for Italy who are cruising towards Euro2020. Expect the Chelsea no.5 to make an impact when the tournament proper begins. Meanwhile, expect him to do the same in the Premier League.