REUTERS/Ciro De Luca
Napoli midfielder Jorginho looks set to become Pep Guardiola's first signing of the summer as Manchester City close in on a £60 million deal for the Italian.
The player's agent, Joao Santos, told Sky Sports: "Jorginho is still under contract but if Napoli finds an agreement with City, the player will go to Manchester."
Jorginho replaces who?
Yaya Toure is unsurprisingly leaving the club this summer after eight years of service and Guardiola hastily announced his intention to replace him. However, Jorginho isn't a like-for-like replacement for the Ivorian legend.
Jorginho sits deeper than Toure would have preferred and tends to hold his position, unlike the powerful Ivorian that often chose to burst forward into the final third. This is because Jorginho's main strength is his ability on the ball, whereas Toure was significantly stronger.
Toure is also a more capable goal-scorer, netting 20 in his best season for the Citizens, whilst Jorginho's best tally for Napoli was two. Jorginho, though, isn't a goal-scoring midfielder.
"I like to control the ball and analyse the game. I have grown up as a player watching many champions like Pirlo and Xavi. I have watched them and tried to learn from how they do things."
It's apparent, therefore, that Guardiola would sign Jorginho as a long-term replacement for the 33-year-old Fernandinho, who sits at the base of City's current midfield.
Jorginho's style of play
In his own words, Jorginho likes to "control the ball" and "analyse the game," similar to the way Xavi did for Barcelona and Andrea Pirlo for Juventus, typically from the base of a midfield three.
Jorginho plays for Maurizio Sarri at Napoli, an attack-minded manager that employs a high-intensity pressing game similar to that used by Guardiola himself. The key for both managers is that the ball is always played on the ground. This is why the Italian flourished in Sarri's system, more so than under former boss Rafa Benitez.
Guardiola's passing game puts the majority of the focus on the two creative midfielders, David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne, who roam from the middle to final third looking for passing opportunities and space. The system doesn't accommodate an ill-disciplined box-to-box midfielder often abandoning his position.
The single-pivot needs positional discipline, a good defensive record and fantastic passing abilities. Jorginho's role for Napoli and the one he'd be required to fill at City, as per Fernandinho, is exactly that. He's a key cog in the maintenance of possession and general pace-setter of the game's tempo.
Jorginho vs Fernandinho
Since Guardiola would theoretically sign Jorginho as a future replacement for Fernandinho, it's useful to compare what the two offered their teams this season.
|Pass completion (%)||89%||90%|
Despite playing for Manchester City, Jorginho's passing statistics are stronger than Fernandinho's, which is extremely impressive. The Italian had a lower passing accuracy, but completed 24 more passes than the Brazilian, 40 of which were key, compared to Fernandinho's 14.
As mentioned, defensive attributes are an important component of Guardiola's single pivot, another area in which Jorginho impresses. He made 9 more tackles than Fernandinho and 7 more interceptions. He's disciplined, furthermore, committing seven fewer fouls than Fernandinho.
Jorginho also mentioned that his preferred style of play is with the "ball on the ground, quick transitions" and "high pressure." Doesn't that sound just like a team in the Premier League?