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Jorginho & Chelsea: Why he'll leave head held high - and be missed by Lampard

COMMENT: When he leaves Stamford Bridge this summer - and it does look like he's leaving - Jorginho can do so with his head held high.

The writing's now on the wall. Yes, he'll get recalled with injuries now taking their toll on Chelsea's midfield. But Jorginho is an afterthought for manager Frank Lampard. Ever since the lockdown - and the season restart - it's as if everything has been flipped between the manager and his No5. From being a first-choice for Lampard. A player... a leader his manager has been eager to turn to. Jorginho has found himself sidelined. A ten minute cameo at Crystal Palace this week his first taste of football since the resumption.

And news that Chelsea attempted to use him as a trump card in negotiations for Miralem Pjanic only confirms what we've been watching play out: where Jorginho is concerned his days as a Blues player are numbered.

It's now doing the rounds that before Juventus agreed to sell Pjanic to Barcelona in a complicated cash/swap arrangement involving Arthur Melo, Chelsea had offered to reunite Jorginho with Maurizio Sarri in exchange for the Bosnian. Juve was tempted. Sarri encouraged. But Pjanic was insistent: he'd only leave for Barca. And so the Chelsea option of Juve's negotiations fell through.

But what's significant is that this was a deal initiated and proposed from London. And it was also one that sparked a second look from Juve. In other words, Jorginho is available - and Sarri, if he is to remain in charge next season, will be pushing Juve to reunite them for a third time.

So what's happened? What's gone wrong for Jorginho? Well, this isn't personal. There's been no bust-up. No personality clash. It's simply circumstance. Lampard wants to take his playing system into a new direction. And Jorginho and his style just doesn't fit.

It fits, of course, for Sarri. As it does for Roberto Mancini, the Italy coach. And the same can be said of Pep Guardiola, who wanted to build his Manchester City midfield around the then Napoli ace before Chelsea's intervention.

But again, this isn't personal. Lampard's Chelsea takes a different approach to Guardiola and City. As it does compared with this season's Juve or Italy. The need for a quarterback in the Jorginho mould isn't there. But that's not to say Lampard wasn't fortunate to have the Italy international available to him over the first-half of the season.

A new manager. A young team. One which had just lost the club's greatest player of the past decade. And also one which was hammered at Manchester United on the opening day of the season. Chelsea were down. They weren't reeling. But questions were being asked of the manager. Of whether they could recover from the loss of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid. And if these much touted kids were actually capable of playing at Premier League level. The club. The dressing room. It needed a leader. Someone to keep it altogether as Lampard and his staff bedded down his ideas. Step forward Jorginho.

“The players are the ones who drive that when they get out there," said Lampard earlier this season when asked about his defensive midfielder. "He is a fantastic player. I saw that on the first day of training in Dublin. Talking about his attitude, he is a driver of the group and he has real quality.

"He has a real passion for football and performance. I love that."

Of course, it took Lampard going public about what Jorginho was doing behind the scenes to make the rest of us stand up and take notice. Before then, he'd long been linked to Sarri and subject to barracking from a section of the Blues support. This was also reflected in the pundit's chair, where the likes of Rio Ferdinand would infamously moan, "How many assists has he got this season? Around 2000 passes, no assists."

That was last season. And before the triumphant Europa League final. Six months on and no-one was questioning Jorginho's value. Like an Andrea Pirlo. A Thiago Motta. Or Carlos Dunga. He was a midfielder misunderstood by the likes of Ferdinand, who quickly re-examined his opinion once Lampard made his known.

But it now appears Chelsea are inviting offers for Jorginho. And a return to Italy - potentially a reunion with Sarri - is on the cards. For this column, it's a decision from Lampard that can be reasoned. But it's also a risk, not the least for what the manager has highlighted most about Jorginho's impact this season. It'll be another leader, like Pedro and potentially Willian and Marcos Alonso, who will be lost to the locker room. Another good pro. Another for these talented kids to lean on now ushered out the exit door. Even after the Palace win, Lampard admitted Jorginho's steadying influence had a hand in the result: "I thought Jorginho when he came on was quality. We needed his experience and his ball retention. He made a lot of passes and calmed us down. Players like Jorginho are invaluable."

However at season end, he'll be off. But he'll leave having conquered his critics in England and with the admiration of the manager who inherited this season. Jorginho can rightly leave after two years in England with his head held high.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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