JORGINHO joins Arsenal in search of a Premier League title… and love.
It is fair to say the graceful Italian midfielder had to work hard to earn praise from Chelsea fans who booed their own player on several occasions during his four-and-a-half years there.
During that time, the Brazil-born playmaker helped the Blues win the Champions League, Europa League, Club World Cup and European Super Cup. Yet few Stamford Bridge fans will thank him for it.
He signed for an initial £50million on the day former manager Maurizio Sarri arrived as boss back in July 2018 and Jorginho remained a symbol of the despised “Sarri ball” system of sideways play that led to silverware but unrest in the stands.
Silky-smooth, Jorginho’s slick and often neat approach to the game was considered boring by many even though he was a manager’s dream for remaining so cool under pressure.
This is what Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has recognised.
The Spaniard’s first home game as Gunners boss back in December 2019 was a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea when Jorginho equalised and was lucky not to be sent off.
Arteta saw a player with the composure to score late goals in big games and put himself about on the quiet and the Premier League leaders now have a vastly experienced and highly-decorated central midfielder whose heart rate never changes regardless of the time or place in a big match.
Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola coached Jorginho under Sarri and put the fans right during the run up to the club’s second Champions League triumph, when they beat Manchester City under Thomas Tuchel in 2021.
Italian Zola told SunSport: “If you are a team that wants to be organised, a passing team, then Jorgo is the man.
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“He is always in the right place supporting defenders and the other midfielders when they have the ball.
“He is always available when the ball is becoming hot. This is a player who never hides and you can rely on him all the time.
“A lot of players under pressure don’t want the ball but Jorgo is not one of them.
“When you have a player who does not hide when you need to control a game under pressure, you value him a lot. Maybe at times people don’t see this.”
Jorginho was voted UEFA Men’s Player of the Year in 2021 after winning the Champions League with Chelsea and the Euros with Italy.
He was also in the running for the ultimate individual honour, the Ballon d’Or, finishing third behind Argentina superstar Lionel Messi and Polish marksman Robert Lewandowski.
At the time Zola said: “Should they give it to Jorginho? It would be deserved.
“He gives concrete balance and pace to his teams. I was lucky to have him at Chelsea and I know what he does on the pitch.
“Maybe the fans just like to see someone who is always flying into tackles, winning the ball back or is knocking players over all the time. He is always questioned. When Jorgo makes a mistake, it is picked up straight away.”
Jorginho leaves Chelsea after playing 213 games and scoring 29 goals.
He was promoted to vice-captain for his leadership on the field and, although his penalty taking could be erratic, he only missed four out of 31.
Boss Graham Potter gave his players a day off on Tuesday, which meant Jorginho could not say a proper goodbye to his team-mates.