Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola has thrown his weight behind his compatriot Jorginho winning the Ballon d'Or award ahead of Lionel Messi this season.
Chelsea star Jorginho has had a terrific 2020-21 season, scoring seven goals and assisting one as Chelsea finished fourth. He also netted one and assisted in one apiece as the Blues won their second UEFA Champions League title in nine years.
Although he did not score or assist any in the tournament, Jorginho played in all seven games, scoring the winning penalty against Spain in the semi-final as Italy won Euro 2020.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi is an overwhelming favourite for the 2021 Ballon d'Or after enjoying another fabulous campaign with Barcelona (won the Copa Del Rey, finished third in La Liga). The 34-year-old then led from the front as Argentina won their first title in three decades at Copa America 2021,
Nevertheless, when asked about Jorginho's chances of usurping Messi and winning this year's Ballon d'Or award, Zola said:
"Now we are talking about a fantastic player like Messi who did extraordinary things for the first time with his national team – and this won't go unnoticed. Should they give it to Jorginho? It would be deserved."
Zola continued about his compatriot:
"He gives concrete balance and pace to his teams. I was lucky to have him at Chelsea and I know what he does on the pitch. It would be deserved because not only were his performances at a high level, but the teams he played for have been outstanding. This must be taken into account."
How has Jorginho fared at Chelsea?
Jorginho was signed by Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea in the summer of 2018 after staving off competition from Manchester City.
Previously, Jorginho had played under Sarri at Napoli, but his debut season in West London was rather mediocre, as he took time to settle at his new surroundings.
Gianfranco Zola, who was the assistant manager at Chelsea back then, helped Jorginho make a smooth transition to the English game.
However, after Chelsea legend Frank Lampard took over the reins of the club after Sarri's exit, Jorginho found first-team opportunities hard to come by. It seemed only a matter of time before Jorginho would leave Chelsea for another club. However, Jorginho enjoyed a second lease of life under Thomas Tuchel, who replaced Lampard.
The Italian grabbed the opportunity with both hands as he played a crucial role in guiding Chelsea reaching the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup finals. While Chelsea fell short in the FA Cup, the Blues won the continental competition. Jorginho also top scored for Chelsea in the Premier League, scoring seven goals.
Jorginho repeated his Chelsea success with Italy as well
Jorginho continued his impressive form at Euro 2020 as well. Despite having a host of quality midfielders to choose from, Italy manager Roberto Mancini opted to start with Jorginho as the pivot.
The Chelsea midfielder commanded the tempo of the team, brought the ball out of the back with ease and set up attacks for Italy.
Despite impressive performances and success with club and country, Jorginho remains an outside choice for the 2021 Ballon d'Or award due to his lack of popularity and the fact that he is not a prolific goalscorer.