The Jorginho signing has more merits than disadvantages, and he is the ideal Thomas Partey cover Mikel Arteta could have asked for.
Arsenal Twitter went into its regular transfer window meltdown when news of interest in Jorginho emerged. After getting all excited about Moises Caicedo despite two failed bids, the fans were not having Jorginho for one second. The reasons ranged from his age, being a Chelsea pensioner, and the utter lack of belief that he would fit Mikel Arteta’s system.
Neither is he that old, and nor is Jorginho a misfit to Arteta’s system. If anything, he is the best Thomas Partey cover the manager could have asked for, at least in the short term. Signing him on a relatively nominal 18 months deal with the option of another year makes perfect sense for Arsenal, especially at £12 million.
Welcome to The Arsenal, Jorginho 👊 pic.twitter.com/jHXqAUBKKQ
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 31, 2023
Sure, Arteta went for Caicedo to accelerate a plan he only wanted to execute in the next window. Much like the previous summer, Arsenal would not have gone for a new midfielder had it not been for Mohamed Elneny’s injury, who will miss the remainder of the campaign.
Coming back to Jorginho, he offers more to this system than any other available midfielders would have. He will prove himself the perfect folly for Partey and dramatically improve Arsenal’s chances of winning the Premier League title.
He is a No.6, and Arsenal needed a player in that position. Unlike last season, they have an able cover for Partey if the Ghanaian midfielder gets an injury between now and May. Jorginho’s technical ability, press resistance, and other attributes align with Arteta’s style, as the Spaniard has ideally brought in the player he wanted three years ago.
Jorginho is a midfield ‘Orchestrator’
Jorginho is no dashing box-to-box midfielder every team craves, and he never will be that. No one can coach the Italian international and convert him into something he is not. Hence, in a world where tactics are rapidly changing every year, there are few systems where the Italian is a natural fit, with Arsenal being one.
Jorginho ranks in the top 10% of Midfielders in Europe for (p90):
Passes Completed (63.44)
Ball Recoveries (7.97)
Passes into the Final 1/3 (7.35)
Progressive Passes (5.44)
Penalty Converted (0.1)
Excellent maintaining possession. 💫 pic.twitter.com/AQwtDe72Fi
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 31, 2023
The only two manager under whom Jorginho underperformed was Graham Potter, while at Chelsea. With Maurizio Sarri, he was the lone midfielder dictating play from midfield. The Italian manager convinced the Blues to sign him ahead of Manchester City.
When he was assistant manager at Manchester City, Arteta pushed Pep Guardiola to sign Jorginho, but they failed. After taking over at Arsenal in his first summer window, Arteta wanted him on priority, but Chelsea would never allow a transfer. The Gunners’ boss then paid the £45 million release clause for Thomas Partey.
Jorginho is a midfield ‘orchestrator’ with his game pretty much pass-heavy and revolves around the compactness of the team. Arsenal are a pretty compact team compared to Chelsea under Potter, who generally prefers to keep the width and play expansive football.
He has physical limitations and is not athletic, but it is barely what Arteta looks at in the role. In a compact and aggressive team like Arsenal, Jorginho could be best described as the ideal no.6 for the manager, even more than Partey.
Jorginho is boring, but sliently effective
He bores the opponent down, the crowds, and kills the game with 1000 passes. Jorginho is the archetypical player to spray passes everywhere, and in a compact team, he would do wonders. Partey flashes his technical quality a bit more than others, letting him catch the eye of onlookers, but the Italian is a silent assassin.
Jorginho – Press Resistance pic.twitter.com/UdNgAxtj6h
— RL (@RL_Comps) January 31, 2023
Makine 100-plus passes in a game is not uncommon for Jorginho. He will thrive with that quality even more in a system like Arteta’s. The entire purpose of his existence is to allow the team to control the game with the ball.
The midfielder’s primary purpose on the field is getting the ball, keeping it, and recycling it. He also ranks in the top 10% of European midfielders for per-90 stats. A recent comparison chart showed his numbers are on-par with Partey’s at Arsenal and better in some aspects.
The 31-year-old is a build-up specialist, particularly under a high press, and a massive weapon against teams with low blocks. With the present quality of technicians besides him in this Arsenal team, especially in close proximity at all times, Jorginho will prove his worth.
Jorginho has made more tackles, interceptions, and ball recoveries than Partey because Chelsea are involved in more transition-based games than Arsenal who exert more control. The more transitions there are, the more a player engages in duels.
Partey is 100x better off the ball. pic.twitter.com/U6N5mHdUKz
— EBL (@EBL2017) January 31, 2023
Defensively, he is one of the best midfielders in the game. And a system like Arsenal’s will let him show the quality. As mentioned before, he is the type of No.6 that Arteta likes and is more suited to the role than Partey. The Ghanaian sometimes invites too much chaos and has more vertical instinct while passing. Jorginho is often known to take the safer route but forward.
His ability to break the lines, being press resistant, and the temperament to find the right passes in the final third. It makes the Italian a solid weapon and an able replacement for Partey in games. With Elneny, Arsenal did not have the choice. But with Jorginho, they have someone who can recycle the ball to the optimal standard.
Jorginho still has limitations but fits Arsenal
A clip on Twitter showed how a referee overtook Jorginho on the field during a counter-attack. Arsenal fans need not worry too much about it. During the game against Manchester United, Arsenal fans were utterly surprised at Partey’s pace when he chased and recovered a ball from Antony.
At his old age, he gives more defensive output than most midfielders in the world.
We need more of what he can do with the ball but he's also one of the better defending midfielders in the game. Massive plus, don't you think? https://t.co/WmVdrOdLOh pic.twitter.com/D4jWX41Bgh
— AI (@nonewthing) January 31, 2023
Not that Partey lacked it; he never had to show it in Arteta’s system before. That is how Arsenal play, and rarely is the midfielder needed to chase back and recover possession. That said, Jorginho still has plenty of limitations in his game.
Physically, he is a liability when teams like Chelsea play expansive football. Jorginho’s limitations are vividly exposed repeatedly. He is not mobile, strong, tall, or a monster while making tackles. He gets in trouble if an attacker gets into a one-on-one situation with him, where Jorginho is likely to lose the duel.
There are also issues when receiving balls pumped into midfield, something Aaron Ramsdale often does. He has a glaring weakness in winning aerial and even ground duels at times. But that is not something Arteta will worry too much about. His positional discipline and intelligence trump those weaknesses in this system.
Jorginho is fit enough for this environment at the Emirates, where players who are good on the ball will excel. He is a leader that works hard and possesses vital qualities in possession. While he has physical limitations and is technically insecure at times, he can grab the game by the scruff of the neck and give his team total control.
Hence, he is a solid signing for Arsenal in the context of the title race. The short-term contract will help Arteta balance the act in the position now. It also allows the club to go for a star signing such as Declan Rice, Caicedo, or both in the summer.
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