Chelsea face costly contract decision as refreshed Jorginho is handed rare opportunity


Jorginho continues to divide the Chelsea fanbase like very few other players. Even on Christmas Day – with all its excesses and distractions – debate kickstarted on social media among supporters as to whether the Italian international offered enough of a creative presence in the Blues midfield. It was inadvertently sparked by Jorginho himself, who in an interview with Chelsea's website released yesterday , reflected on the criticism of his game.

"Many people just look at the goals and they don’t look at the opportunities that someone else missed, which is obviously part of the game," he said. "I’ve heard some stupid things about my first year here like '2000 passes and not one assist'. "That statistic is the reality, unfortunately, but then please also go on YouTube and look at the missed chances, it’s not just about numbers. It doesn’t bother me but it’s crazy that people just look at the numbers like that instead of knowing more about what’s happening properly.

"That is why it doesn’t bother me because those who know me and who are here [at Chelsea] every day and understand about football, they know how I am and what I can give to the team so it’s fine. It’s just crazy and makes me laugh sometimes."

At 31 years old, Jorginho cannot reinvent his game. His physical limitations are clear, but so is his undoubted technical quality. And given the successes the midfielder has celebrated over the past two-and-a-half years for club and country, his legion of acolytes can argue with some justification that alterations are simply not required.

The noise and discussion around Jorginho are a constant. Yet his standing in the first-team squad under Thomas Tuchel and now Graham Potter has never been impacted. That is highlighted by the number of minutes the Italian has played since the start of the 2021/22 campaign. Jorginho has racked up 4,883 minutes in all competitions for Chelsea over the past 16 months; a figure only Thiago Silva (5,427) and Mason Mount (5,231) can better among the club's current outfield players. The workload is huge and something Jorginho admits takes its toll on players and their performances.

“We need to think about the players – it’s been crazy how many injuries we’ve seen with so many games in a row," he said. "It’s been tough for all players so having a little time to breathe is quite good and productive. "At the end of the day, if you give a little bit of rest to the players then it means the levels will be higher for the next game. It will be a better game and there will be more entertainment for people. When you put in game after game after game, as players we are tired and then how can we keep the level up high? It’s just not possible; we are only human beings."

Prolonged breaks for players at the very top level of the game are rare – and may become a thing of the past - as FIFA pushes forward with plans for an expanded Club World Cup in addition to upping the number of countries in action at World Cups to 48 from 2026. Yet the past six weeks have been an opportunity for Jorginho to recharge. With Italy absent from the World Cup in Qatar, Jorginho and the handful of other first-team stars not in action for their countries were given a fortnight off to mentally detach and physically recover from the stresses of the season.

The group then reported back to Cobham in early December before spending seven days in the warmer climate of Abu Dhabi. Training has since continued at Chelsea's training base in Surrey , with the intensity of sessions stepping up as players returned from their World Cup exploits. The first-team squad isn't quite back at full strength - Mateo Kovacic and Hakim Ziyech are still absent - but there will be no excuses for those who step out against Bournemouth tomorrow (Tuesday) as the Premier League campaign restarts.

A rested and refreshed Jorginho is almost certain to feature – and the hope is he can reproduce his very best form in the months ahead, something that would be rather timely for the former Napoli star given his contract at Stamford Bridge expires at the end of the campaign. Talks are expected to be held with Jorginho and his representatives in the coming weeks. The current feeling at Chelsea is the Italian will depart on a free transfer in the summer, but an impressive run of performances would strengthen his hand in negotiations with Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali.

No matter what comes next for Jorginho, he will continue to be the subject of heated discussions and tit-for-tat arguments among many Chelsea supporters, both in the real world and online. That will always be an unfortunate part of his legacy at Stamford Bridge – but there is plenty more too.

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