26th May 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
When the news filtered through that AS Roma had overcome Chievo Verona 5-3 ahead of Napoli’s clash with Fiorentina, the Partenopei knew nothing less than a win would do to keep their slim hopes alive of finishing second and getting an automatic passage into the group stage of next season’s Champions League.
They emphatically responded by swiping aside Paulo Sousa’s talented outfit 4-1, in a match where they exhibited their customarily fluent and exciting offensive style of football. While Dries Mertens, Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne deservedly took the lion’s share of the plaudits, the performance of holding midfielder, Jorginho, merited just as much praise.
The elegant Italian-Brazilian regista, who’s endured a battle with Amadou Diawara in his chosen position this season, which has seen him spend his fair share of time on the bench, but is now coexisting well with the Guinean, hardly put a foot wrong throughout the win.
First and foremost, the 25-year-old’s masterful distribution skills provided a decisive platform for him to construct and instigate his team’s attacking forays. Although he possesses an expansive range of passing, his expertise in playing concise, short and fast combinations in tight spaces, as is Maurizio Sarri’s desire, plus hit vertically penetrative balls to find teammates in between the lines, once again played a key role in Napoli being able to dismantle La Viola’s defensive structure.
The way he’d open his body to receive and turn in one slick motion, following nifty blindside checks that painted a mental picture of his immediate surroundings, enabled him to rapidly look up and make well calculated decisions.
Upon amalgamating the afore with his intelligent movement and sound positional sense of where to be in accordance with Sarri’s offensive structure, and it’s easy to see why he was such a weapon in animating and dictating so much of Napoli’s best work in this phase of the game.
To touch further on his movement, and his important lateral shifts over to the ball near half space helped create overloads and subsequent positional superiority for the Partenopei to progress upfield through.
Jorginho’s wonderful ability to process situations so effectively notably transferred over into his defensive work too. Whether blocking central passing lanes, applying heavy pressure or shifting horizontally to help pen Fiorentina in on the wings, the former Hellas Verona star’s impact was keenly felt. Moreover, his vast footballing IQ was further demonstrated during instances when he’d notice centre-back, Raul Albiol, stepping out to track Fiorentina forward, Nikola Kalinic. Upon witnessing this, Jorginho would shrewdly drop back and fill in Albiol’s position to ensure a gaping hole wasn’t present in the heart of the Napoli defence.
Italian newspaper, Gazetta dello Sport lauded him for what they believed was a man of the match performance, gleaming: “Jorginho is the player of the match in Naples.
“Maybe he’s among the least flashy, and his technical repertoire mostly consisted of playing short passes in confined spaces, but he eventually crushed the competition, confirming his position as the most valuable player in the coach’s 4-3-3.”
Amid interest from Arsenal, who Jorginho would be a terrific fit for at the base of midfield courtesy of his multifaceted capabilities, it looms as a fascinating summer for the gifted midfielder.
But working under the tactically sophisticated methods of Sarri, a manager who wholly appreciates him and within a team that plays some of the most breathtaking football in Europe, will be hard for him to walk away from, however.
His love of Naples may prove a stumbling block for any potential suitors too, with him mentioning how the friendliness and warmth of the people remind him of his homeland, Brazil.
Before all that, though, Napoli still have their final Serie A match of the season vs. a quality laden Sampdoria to worry about. And you can guarantee Jorginho will be doing everything in his power to ensure he plays a similarly profound role here – just as he did against La Viola.
Who knows, if things go their way, they might even be able to snatch second from Roma.
Licence to Roam features more articles by Edward.