Let’s nip this in the bud right away – no, of course Jorginho shouldn’t be a serious contender for this year’s Ballon d’Or.
The Chelsea midfielder is undoubtedly a fine player, and is celebrating a tremendous couple of months after guiding his club to Champions League glory before then lifting the European Championship trophy with Italy.
No one can dispute that Jorginho had a key role in both these trophy wins, but that’s quite different from making him Ballon d’Or material.
We may all be bored of Lionel Messi winning it every year, but come on, it’s not like he doesn’t deserve it. Robert Lewandowski’s outstanding form might also make him a strong candidate this year, and he would almost certainly have won it in 2020 if the ceremony hadn’t been cancelled due to the pandemic.
But Jorginho? Come off it, he’s not even Chelsea’s best midfielder, let alone player. If anyone from Thomas Tuchel’s squad of European Champions were to take the prize, it should be N’Golo Kante.
Unfortunately, in football we have a habit of over-hyping players who have simply played a part in winning loads of trophies, when we should instead be awarding individual brilliance to those who elevated their teams to new heights.
Or to put it another way, can you imagine Chelsea still winning the Champions League without Jorginho being in their team? Yes, pretty easily. That’s not to say having him around didn’t help, but there are other players in Tuchel’s squad who could’ve done a similar job, or offered other qualities to make up for it. And if Chelsea had signed, say, Declan Rice, last summer, it’s again easy to imagine that he would’ve also had a fine impact alongside Kante in midfield.
Likewise, can you imagine Italy winning the Euros without Jorginho? Again, the answer is an emphatic ‘yes!’ – the likes of Marco Verratti, Manuel Locatelli and Nicolo Barella were all strong in midfield throughout the tournament, while the likes of Federico Chiesa and Domenico Berardi provided the spark up front, settling some crucial games. Perhaps most important of all, however, was the defensive strength and visible leadership of centre-back pairing Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.
In short, there are plenty of candidates in this Italy squad, but Jorginho is far from being at the top of the list.
Again, this is not to say if Jorginho turned up offering to play in your midfield that you’d say no – indeed, he may well have improved England’s midfield, though it’s far from certain after such strong performances from Rice and Kalvin Phillips, and would it have been enough to give them the win over Italy in the final? Probably not. Would putting Messi or Lewandowski up front have had more of an impact on the final score? Almost definitely.
Football is a team game, so perhaps it’s silly that we fixate on individual awards anyway, but we have seen many cases of individual stars making the difference for their teams, even if it doesn’t always lead to trophies. Steven Gerrard may never have lifted a Premier League title in his Liverpool career, but it’s obvious that they’d have been even further away without him. Ryan Giggs won 13 of them with Manchester United, but was he the decisive figure in any of them? Not really. He spanned several different eras at Old Trafford, but in each of them you’d easily find an Eric Cantona, a Roy Keane or a Cristiano Ronaldo to put ahead of him. Like Jorginho, he was a top player surrounded by numerous other top players, led by top managers.
Let’s appreciate Jorginho for what he is, but any talk of hailing him as the best player in world football would make a mockery of the award.