It will probably come as a surprise to Maurizio Sarri to learn that Chelsea’s fans have chants in celebration of Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic these days. That never happened during the Italian’s solitary year at Stamford Bridge. Jorginho was often written off as everything wrong with Sarriball and there was little excitement when Chelsea made Kovacic’s loan from Real Madrid permanent last summer.
Kovacic was a bland presence last season. The midfielder’s passing was too safe, he offered nothing in the way of a goal threat and he often looked choked on the left of Sarri’s midfield three. Everything was too predictable and it hardly helped that the Croat seemed to be in a job-share with Ross Barkley. No substitution was more predictable than Barkley for Kovacic. Other, that is, than Kovacic for Barkley.