Maurizio Sarri pledged to stick with Jorginho after the damaging 4-0 loss at Bournemouth brought renewed scrutiny for the Chelsea midfielder.
Italy international Jorginho was a flagship close-season signing from Sarri’s former club Napoli and has been a mainstay as a deep-lying playmaker for the Blues this term.
The ploy worked to fine effect during Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season but opponents have targeted the 27-year-old with increasing success over the past couple of months.
Bournemouth goalscorer Joshua King and manager Eddie Howe confirmed shutting down Jorginho was key to their success in midweek and his status in Sarri’s side is further complicated by N’Golo Kante filling a shuttling midfield role.
Kante arguably established himself as the best defensive midfielder in world football during his first two seasons at Chelsea, but playing the French World Cup winner in that position does not fit with Sarri’s wider plan.
Speaking at a news conference to preview Huddersfield Town’s trip to Stamford Bridge, Sarri was asked what circumstances might persuade him to deploy the ex-Leicester City favourite in front of the back four instead of Jorginho.
He replied: “Only for 20 minutes if I have to defend a result.
“It depends upon what you want from Jorginho. If from Jorginho you want the last pass, he has not adapted [to the Premier League].
“Jorginho is very able to move the ball, to build up the action, but Jorginho usually plays at 40 to 45 metres from the opposition goal, so it’s impossible for him to make the last pass.
“Jorginho is very good for another job.”
A long-serving Chelsea star undergoing a period of adaptation is Eden Hazard.
The Telegraph reported Hazard was singled out during a lengthy dressing-room inquest at the Vitality Stadium, but Sarri insists the Belgium forward is receptive to operating for the benefit of the collective.
“I think that he’s changing. He was used to playing as an individual player. Now he has to play in a particular way,” he explained.
“It’s not easy for him because he became Hazard playing in another way. But I can see that, now, he is more available to play in this way. He needs to improve, of course. That’s normal.
“He’s fantastic from the technical point of view, and I think he can do more tactically. At the moment, it’s not easy for our striker to play in this team.
“As you know very well, we have a lot of individual players like Hazard, Willian and Pedro, so it’s not easy for the striker to do the right movement at the right time.”
The striker in question over the past week has been Gonzalo Higuain, who is yet to find the net in two appearances since joining on loan from Juventus.
“At the moment, he’s not at the very top, physically,” Sarri said of the Argentina international.
“In the last 45 days, he played a few matches only – because of his back but also because of his involvement in the market.
“So he needs to improve because he is able to accelerate more than now. Then I think that, if he’s able to improve physically, he will be able to be useful for us immediately.”