Jorginho will certainly never forget 2021. This year the midfielder has lifted the Champions League and Super Cup with Chelsea and steered Italy to glory at the European Championship.
In the process, the 29-year-old has won over the majority of his detractors; it was noticeable at Stamford Bridge last weekend against Crystal Palace that there was a loud ‘Jorginho’ chant during the first half.
That vocal support hasn’t always been offered to the Italian during his Chelsea career. In his first season, Jorginho drew the ire of many due to his close relationship with largely unpopular Maurizio Sarri. Jorginho’s second campaign, meanwhile, ended with him on the substitutes bench.
Things didn’t dramatically change under Frank Lampard during the first half of last term. But the dismissal of the club legend in January saw the arrival of Thomas Tuchel and a huge change in fortunes for Jorginho.
In Tuchel, the Italian has a coach who truly appreciates his many talents yet also understands his limitations. And that was never more evident than during Friday’s press conference.
The Chelsea boss was asked two questions about the midfielder. The first was whether there was a genuine attempt on Tuchel’s part to bring him to Paris Saint-Germain last summer. And the second was about the qualities that Jorginho adds to a team and why he is so appreciated by top-level coaches.
Tuchel’s response was as detailed as it was long; the German spent the best part of four minutes eulogising about the man known to many Chelsea supporters as J5.
“I would say no [we didn’t try to sign him for PSG], although we would have taken him and I would have picked him up personally if there was a chance,” Tuchel began.
“I do not think we were in contact, but that does not mean PSG maybe wasn’t in contact. I was maybe not aware of everything that was going on in the transfer period at that moment.”
Tuchel continued: “I think Jorgi is a very strategic player. He can play in advance, knows what to do in ball possession, can imagine what is going to happen in one or two passes ahead.
“He knows where to help out in short distances and long distances, when to switch the play, when not to switch the play. He has a good sense of rhythm.
“He lacks, if you isolate him or watch him separately, the pure physical ability that makes him the number one candidate to be a number six in the Premier League.
“But once you have him in a structure, he is very well organised in his game, he organises all the environment around him, which helps him then, when everything is organised, and then he can show his true abilities in controlling the rhythm of a game.
“He is relentless on defence. He wants to be everywhere on the pitch, he has a huge ability to run a lot. Maybe he lacks the high speeds, but he compensated with a lot of work rate and with very good anticipation in his defensive work.
“On top of all of that, he’s a top guy. He is funny, he has a big smile on his face every single day. You can have chats with him, you can laugh every single day with him, because he’s up for a laugh, up for a good life.
“He’s in love with this game and this is the feeling he transports in the first minute and he never stops transmitting this energy that he’s really into the game and thinking about tactics and loves to be involved and feel a true connection with the game and such a positive guy.
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“That makes him a very, very important player and a huge link in the middle of the pitch, not only for us but also for Italy.
“I’m very happy that guys like him, like [N’Golo] Kante and [Kevin] De Bruyne – and this will have a huge effect on guys like Mateo Kovacic – that people understand the importance of these characters and what they do.
“That sometimes they don’t shine, but they make other people shine and this is also important for any team in the world.”