22nd September 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Replacing Benjamin Mendy, who became the world's most expensive defender when he joined Manchester City for €56 million, was never going to be easy for AS Monaco. But in the form of young Brazilian fullback, Jorge, they've done so rather seamlessly, as the 21-year-old has stepped up and filled the void with aplomb.
Joining in January from Flamengo for €8.5m, the diminutive left back had to bide his time during the second half of the season behind Mendy, having to be content with just 90 minutes of playing time. Since Mendy's summer departure, however, the once capped Brazil international has grasped his opportunities with both hands, as he's enjoyed a superb start to the new term. His most recent outing for the Monegasques' vs. Strasbourg provided yet another glowing testament to his quality.
Recent Performances for Monaco Fullback Jorge
Facing off against the tricky, pacey winger, Joia Nuno Da Costa, Jorge did a wonderful job of nullifying the threat of his direct opponent. Using his strength, low centre of gravity, ability to cleanly execute his tackles and sharp awareness, Jorge hardly ever allowed his man an easy touch. His two tackles, three interceptions and nine clearances not only evidenced the afore aptly but also his efficiency at relieving danger. Remaining so concentrated and alert further enabled him to be aware of when to respond to pressing triggers, like when his man would receive with his back to goal or with an open body position, and when his man embarked on runs in behind.
His strength in 1v1 duels also extended to the offensive end, where he used a combination of changes of pace and crafty dribbles to often get the better of his tracker or create enough room for a cross. Moreover, the way he'd usually position himself high and wide also proved effective in pinning his man so his nearest centre back, Jemerson, could dribble up-field freely. Another by-product of him adding width and depth to Monaco's attacks came when the horizontally compact Strasbourg block would become stretched due to his movement, with this disrupting their capacity to cover central areas.
An accomplished passer to boot, Jorge's aptitude in this regard has seen him already provide three assists this campaign, plus play his role in constructing and adding life to his team's moves. The fact he chimed in with a wonderful cutback assist for Falcao's goal illustrated his class here accordingly.
Settling in to life in France
Defensively resolute and full of attacking prowess, the man voted the best left back in the 2016 Brazilian Serie A is clearly relishing obtaining vital first team minutes now Mendy's gone. In addition, working under the tactical genius of Leonardo Jardim will only aid in his development, particularly on the defensive end. Indeed, when announcing his decision to join the club, he noted how crucial Jardim was in him choosing Monaco, who on top of also speaking Portuguese, Jorge saw him as a terrific choice to get the best out of himself.
Importantly, his transition to life in the principality has been massively helped by Monaco's strong Brazilian contingent, which includes the likes of Jemerson, Fabinho and Gabriel Boschilia. This was something he mentioned as a key factor when he was unveiled. "The city is magnificent and I'll do everything I can to adapt. I played against Jemerson in the Brazilian league. I know Boschilia from playing for Brazil together. He told me about the club. The city is very pretty. His being here is making it easier for me to settle in and everyone has given me confidence," he explained during his first press conference.
Being surrounded by his fellow countrymen, in combination with learning from the tactical mastery of Jardim and in an environment so conducive to developing young talent, has undoubtedly given him a firm base from which to settle into life at Monaco - and subsequently shine.
Already one of the finest young fullbacks in Europe, Jorge's splendid form has certainly done plenty to lessen the blow of losing Mendy to Manchester City. In future, if Jorge leaves for a similarly staggering fee as Mendy did, it won't be too much of a surprise, for he's got pretty much all the skills, as Mendy does, to one day reach the upper echelons of the sport.