Manchester City are reportedly on the brink of signing of Napoli midfielder Jorginho, a move that would see Fernandinho replaced. Pep Guardiola has never been one to rest on his laurels with regards to strengthening his squad in transfer windows; yet even for the Spaniard, securing this deal this early would be quite the coup.
The Brazilian-born central midfield player has been a revelation since joining the Neapolitans in the 2014 January transfer window, and has become an ever present in Maurizio Sarri’s side. During his first season with Napoli, he helped the club win the Coppa Italia, scoring the winning goal vs Roma in the semi-final.
How do you solve a problem like Fernandinho?
Manchester City are known to be on the lookout for a long-term replacement for Fernandinho, who turns 33 in May. The Brazilian’s improvement this season has been nothing short of astonishing. One of the most crucial changes has been to his range of passing throughout City’s title-winning season. As well as this, Fernandinho’s ability to screen the back four to allow the more attacking players to flourish further up the pitch has been vital in City’s domestic double.
Borussia Dortmund’s Julian Weigl and Shakhtar Donetsk’s Fred have also been reported as potential replacements for the Brazilian. However, it seems that Guardiola has chosen his man, and is willing to act early in order to secure him.
Guardiola famously only stays at a club for a short period of time. While he does indeed look to change the whole outlook of a club from the moment he walks through the doors to the moment he leaves, there can still be no getting away from the fact that he needs to win trophies in the here and now. With many of Guardiola’s recent signings under the age of 25, he has laid strong foundations for years to come. But while there is so much still to come from these players, potential isn’t something he needs anymore.
Jorginho’s ability to play in a number of roles across midfield will have appealed to the City manager, and his distribution is surely the one thing Guardiola admires the most. His passing statistics from this season are nothing short of incredible; for a Guardiola team, this is absolutely essential. His pass completion stats are at a staggering 89.2%, and he has averaged 93.8 passes per game this season. This is higher than anybody has managed within the Manchester City squad this season. No doubt that this a massive factor in his link to the move.
The realisation that Fernandinho cannot last forever doing what he does, combined with the need to improve even on this season indicates that he believes Jorginho is ready to come into the team straight away. Instead of trying to unlock the potential of Weigl or Fred in the two or three years remaining on his contract, he is getting a ready-made replacement who may be able to take the club to new heights, not three years from now – but in the immediate.