Matthew Amalfitano reports on the Napoli midfielder making a big impact in Serie A...
The 60-second story
- Full name: Jorge Luiz Frello Filhoin
- Date of birth: December 20, 1991
- Place of birth: Imbituba, Brazil
- Height: 1.80m (5ft 11in)
- Position: Centre Midfield
- Club: Napoli (27 caps, 1 goal)
- Former Clubs: Verona (96 caps, 11 goals, 9 assists), AC Sambonifacese
- Country: Italy (uncapped)
The Brazil-born Italian midfielder, better known to the world as Jorginho, just began his first full season with Napoli. Born Jorge Luiz Frello Filhoin in Imbituba, Jorginho moved to northern Italy with his family when he was a teenager. He then joined Verona’s youth setup and rose through the ranks.
2010 was a big year for the starlet as he was loaned out to Serie C2 side AC Sambonifacese for a taste of senior football. Jorginho’s quality shined brightly in his one-year spell at the club, as he registered 10 assists in 31 appearances.
Returning to his parent club Verona the next season, Jorginho helped them reach the Serie B promotion play-offs, where they fell just short. However, the 2012/13 season saw a Jorginho-inspired Verona finish second, resulting in promotion to Serie A. The player made 41 league appearances and also netted three goals in the Coppa Italia.
Jorginho’s impressive displays for Verona in his debut Serie A season caught the attention of many clubs, after scoring seven goals in 18 appearances. Interest arose accordingly, but the regista was snatched up in January by Napoli to aid their midfield quandary.
Why you need to know him
Jorginho acting as a deep-lying regista is odd in the age of less-specialised player roles. Think Andrea Pirlo and Xabi Alonso, but with a slender frame. His quality is undoubted, and he attracted attention from Premier League giants Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool before signing a co-ownership deal with the Partenopei. The midfielder has just returned from injury, but has not taken long to impress and should soon permanently recapture his starting place in Napoli’s double pivot.
Although not yet capped for Italy, Jorginho is likely the future of the national team, and an heir to Pirlo. And wouldn’t a potential midfield duo of Jorginho and Marco Verratti be something special to watch? The 22-year-old is one of Napoli’s best performers and will again help lead the charge for a Champions League place.
Jorginho’s qualities lie in his vision and passing ability. He models his play after Pirlo himself, minus the glorious beard and philosophical mystique. Jorginho’s distribution is exceptional, and he possesses the ability to place long, diagonal passes or unlock the defence with a quick, clever ball. The regista averaged an 89.6% pass-completion rate for Napoli last season.
His tactical awareness is also very good, with intelligent positioning to consistently break up play. Indeed, he averaged 2.41 tackles and 2.41 interceptions per game at Verona last year. The pacey midfielder’s work-rate is certainly noteworthy; his agent Joa Santo stated that Jorginho “runs 12km a game”. On the ball, the player flaunts his great control, footwork and technique that stem from his Brazilian roots.
Playing in front of the defence requires the type of player that is both physically imposing and great in the air. Jorginho is poor in both regards. The midfielder’s weak frame makes it easy for opponents to muscle him off the ball, while last season for Napoli he was successful in just 2 of 11 aerial duels he contested.
“Jorginho worked hard to have this opportunity,” agent Santo told TuttoMercatoWeb when the player signed for Napoli, adding further that his player “wants to play for Napoli with the same professional attitude he had at Verona. He wants to do well in a club with a great tradition behind it.”
Coach Rafael Benitez was impressed by the youngster’s first start for Napoli, telling Rai Sport: “He is the kind of player who can help us change attitude during a match and that is important.”
Did you know?
Legal issues denied Jorginho the chance to represent Italy at the World Cup. The 22-year-old obtained an Italian passport through family ties but, more importantly, will soon have spent enough time in Italy to be considered a naturalised citizen.
Furthermore, the player himself said that he has to wait until after December 22 to make his Azzurri debut. There is still heavy interest from Brazil to cap him, but Jorginho seems to have preferred Italy, citing the time spent growing up in the country as an influential reason.
- Shooting 6
- Heading 5
- Passing 8
- Tackling 7
- Pace 7
- Dribbling 7
- Creativity 7
- Work-rate 8
Co-ownership deals in Italian football were formally abolished at the end of last season, but a one-year grace period was allowed for current deals. Therefore to make the move permanent, Napoli must buy Jorginho outright for €5 million when the deal ends in June 2015.
In the meantime, Jorginho will continue to be monitored by Italy head coach Antonio Conte. Expect the youngster to compete for a starting place in Italy’s stacked midfield once he is eligible to play. He could become an important element of the Azzurri’s qualifying run to Euro 2016 and beyond.