Jorginho has had a bitter-sweet stint at Stamford Bridge so far. The Chelsea midfielder was signed by Maurizio Sarri in 2018 for a staggering £50 million. With Manchester City close to signing him at the time, the signing was considered a steal. Yet it took time for the Italian to settle into life in England. He faced criticism from pundits and was even booed off by his own fans on occasions in 2018/19. The phrase baptism of fire couldn’t be more appropriate. Despite a bumpy first year, the 28 year old has looked far more comfortable in 2019/20. But this hasn’t stopped rumours of an exit for the former Napoli midfielder. More a specifically, a reunion with Sarri at Juventus in exchange for Miralem Pjanic.
Sky Sports have reported that the Bianconeri are interested in Jorginho, with their manager knowing him far better than anyone. So much so, they are willing to include Bosnian international Pjanic as part of the deal. Given the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on club revenues, this is hardly a surprise. Juventus already have an astronomical wage bill given their reputation of landing players on free contracts with generous salaries. Oh and Cristiano Ronaldo’s pay packet. So to make room for Jorginho, they’ll have to balance the books.
Yet he still has 3 years remaining on his contract at Stamford Bridge. Having proved he can perform in the English top-flight, the Chelsea midfielder may hesitate over moving back to Italy. Moreover, the Blues will want to recover as much of that £50 million transfer fee back as possible. So either way, this isn’t going to be cheap for the Italian giants.
Money and contracts aside, does the move make sense on the pitch for both sides? Here’s our comparison of the two midfield maestros:
Jorginho vs Pjanic – Similar or different?
Jorginho and Pjanic are similar in many ways. Both 5ft 11 technically gifted midfielders able to play in multiple positions across the centre of the pitch. Neither are quick, athletic or physically dominant, yet use their intelligence and creativity to orchestrate play. 89.8% pass accuracy for Pjanic, 88% for Jorginho (2019/20). 3.4 long balls per game compared to 3.7. 2 assists each for the former Roma and former Napoli midfielders this season.
Where a difference emerges between them is their defensive outputs. In 2019/20, Pjanic has averaged 1.7 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game, whereas Jorginho has averaged 2.2 tackles and interceptions. Both Chelsea (57.4%) and Juventus (57.1%) have similar average possession stats in their respective leagues. So perhaps Jorginho is just more effective defensively. All stats courtesy of WhoScored.com.
It’s also worth bearing in mind the pace of the two leagues. Serie A is notoriously a much slower league giving midfielders more time on the ball. So with a quicker league like the Premier League, there will be more opportunities for tackles and interceptions.
Jorginho vs Pjanic – The subtle improvements
Furthermore, the Juventus midfielder makes up for his inferior defensive qualities going forward. Firstly, he’s one of the best free kick takers on the continent. Just because you’re not taking free-kicks for your side, doesn’t mean you’re not good at them. It’s not Pjanic’s fault Cristiano Ronaldo still thinks he’s in 2007 vs Portsmouth with the dead ball. Juninho said his former Lyon teammate was the best free kick taker in the world in 2015. That’s all that needs to be said. Jorginho isn’t bad on set-pieces himself. But Pjanic is on another level.
The Chelsea midfielder’s best positions are as a deep lying playmaker or box to box midfielder. Pjanic can also play as a deep lying playmaker alongside more advanced roles that Jorginho can’t. Throughout his career, the 3 time Serie A winner was been played as a box to box midfielder, an attacking midfielder, even on occasions as a second striker. As a result, the Bosnian international is more versatile than the Italian and more of a goal scoring threat.
Summary – Bad move for both parties
In summary, Jorginho and Pjanic are similar in ways, but different in others. There’s certainly a trade off when you choose one over the other. Jorginho is better defensively whilst Pjanic is better going forward. It’s also worth bearing in mind their ages. The Italian international is 28 years old whilst Pjanic is 30. As a result, the former is currently in his ‘prime years’ whilst the latter may soon start to see a drop off. This of course may not be the case, as we’ve seen with many players. Andrea Pirlo of course a great example in this case.
But Pjanic could easily transition into Jorginho’s deep lying playmaker role as he starts to feel the effects of age. He has the technical ability and his game hasn’t relied on pace, similarly to Jorginho. Either way, this deal doesn’t make sense for Chelsea in particular. They would be moving a player who has finally adjusted to the league and swapping him for an older player that will need time to adapt. On top of that, they would have to convince Pjanic, who’s been in Italy for 9 years, to move to England and offer him a higher wage during a time of lower revenues.
This is without mentioning how much it could cost Juventus. They’ll have to agree a transfer fee with Marina Granovskaia, a notoriously tough negotiator. You’d imagine at least £25-30 million. Then they would probably have to offer Jorginho a higher salary. Maybe Maurizio Sarri has an incredible plan that only his former player fits in, making the transfer worthwhile. But in my opinion, I just don’t see how this move benefits either party. Chelsea on the pitch and Juventus financially.
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