As the full-time whistle blew he knew he had become a Chelsea legend.
With the sound of the fans engulfed in delirious celebration, limbs running in several directions and the sound of “Freed from Desire” by Gala started to play over the speakers, Jorginho burst into tears of happiness. This was the pure vindication of years of sacrifice, hard work and adversity.
No matter what happened beyond the 29th May in Porto, Jorginho would always be remembered as one of the Chelsea heroes who won a European Cup, only the second in the club’s history. That night, the Italian had defined his legacy in SW6.
What followed was arguably grander heights. Winning the Euro’s with his nation at Wembley two months later, then being named UEFA Men’s Player of the Year in September and was in the top three of December’s Ballon d’Or ceremony.
That last paragraph in addition to the Champions League crown would have probably sounded fanciful at the beginning of 2021 when Jorginho’s Chelsea career was far from certain and major doubts lingered over his capability to produce high-quality performances against the strongest opposition.
Like we can do when reflecting on several Chelsea players over the past year, Thomas Tuchel changed that.
Now the Italian is widely recognised as one of the continent’s best midfielders and his value to Chelsea has not been higher.
Now as we begin 2022, a year that could see a very different shift for Jorginho, Juventus ‘will do everything’ to sign the 30-year-old according to TuttoMercatoWeb.
The upcoming summer will be definitive in many ways for Chelsea but central midfield feels like a particular area of interest where Marina Granovskaia will be tasked with either consolidating what she has or making a radical change.
This dilemma can be related to the one Liverpool faced in 2017 when Phillipe Coutinho desired a move to Barcelona. Although the pair play in different areas and the Brazillian was younger when jumping to the Camp Nou, his importance to Jurgen Klopp was big.
His mid-season sale felt like a step backwards for Klopp who had been slowly improving the Reds and forming a team that would be good enough to challenge for the league title a year later. But Coutinho’s mega sale sent a signal that Liverpool’s rebuild had taken a hit.
But that move opened up room for Liverpool to spend more in the market, there was the £75m signing of Virgil van Dijk in the same window, then the £60m signing of Alisson Becker six months later.
Given Chelsea’s long-term interest in midfield targets like Aurelien Tchouameni and Declan Rice, 2022 offers the Blues a similar opportunity to evolve an area of the pitch.
Both Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are out of contract in 2023, meaning that this summer will force either major sales or the club risks drifting through another season with key players future undecided.
The decision on Jorginho, who is now 30 and is highly unlikely to replicate an astonishing 2021, means a return to Serie A feels slightly inevitable.
Jorginho’s agent, Joao Santos, has been publically talking about a return to Italy for over a year now and given the midfielder’s skillset, a return to the league that suits his style is likely the only market Granovskaia can attract a fee similar to the one she originally negotiated with Napoli in 2018.
The question for Chelsea must be, how much better can Jorginho get? And by handing him another contract sends a message he still remains part of the club’s plans?
If you would have asked fans back in the midst of his challenging first season at Chelsea, where he was briefly booed and sarcastically cheered by his own fans, the concept of him becoming so beloved three years later felt pretty slim.
Jorginho has won at Chelsea and 2022 is probably the right time to move on.
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