Maurizio Sarri admitted that he does not think Jorginho can improve any further after four years under his coaching and added that his Chelsea team are not yet ready to risk changing tactics.
Jorginho’s performances at the base of the Chelsea midfield have come under greater scrutiny in recent weeks, reiterating the club’s need to replace the departed Cesc Fabregas.
Sarri knows Jorginho well after making the 27-year-old the passing hub of his Napoli teams, and does not think his marquee summer signing has more to give.
“Jorginho played with me for four seasons,” Maurizio Sarri said. “It’s very difficult for him to improve more. He played very well for 20 matches, I think. He’s the player in the Premier League who has touched more balls [than anyone else]. Now, maybe, in the last two matches he was a little bit tired.
“He moved the ball a little bit [slower] than before, but I think that it’s normal. You cannot stay at the top for 60 matches, so it’s normal to have a different period, a period when you are not so lucid as usual. But it’s not a big problem. Of course, it’s the reason I said we needed a replacement for Cesc.”
Chelsea sit fourth in the Premier League, six points clear of Saturday’s opponents Arsenal. But clinical finishing has become harder to find for Sarri’s team in recent weeks as their last 11 league games have yielded just 12 goals scored.
It is hoped that Gonzalo Higuain’s imminent arrival on loan from Juventus will alleviate that problem, but many supporters have also become increasingly frustrated with what they perceive as stagnant, predictable possession football in Sarri’s chosen 4-3-3 system.
Chelsea’s head coach, however, insisted that switching formations is not a risk he is prepared to take.
“We are not ready to change at the moment,” Maurizio Sarri admitted. “We are not ready. I can change when we are at 100 percent in what I want to see. If in 4-3-3 we are at the top, we can try to change. Like in Naples last season, when we played in the last period also in 4-2-3-1. But not at the moment. We are not ready.
“It’s very difficult to say a percentage but, in England, it’s very difficult to arrive at the top because this one was the first week without three matches since August.
“So, for the first time in the last four months, we had time to try to improve. It’s not easy in this situation to improve a lot in such little training time.”
Chelsea have scored one more goal and garnered one more Premier League point than at the same stage of last season under Antonio Conte, but Maurizio Sarri insisted he is only measuring his players’ improvement against the level they set with their performances at the beginning of this campaign. “At the moment, the numbers are really very similar,” he said. “In the last part of last season, Chelsea didn’t do very well. So we have the possibility to improve on that. But I think it’s very important to improve from the starting condition of this year.