Giorgio Chiellini is urging Juventus not to focus all of their attention on Romelu Lukaku when they face Chelsea on Wednesday, also highlighting the qualities of Jorginho, who he is backing to win this year’s Ballon d’Or.
Juve made a winning start to their Champions League campaign two weeks ago with a 3-0 victory over Malmo, though they will expect a rather trickier challenge as Chelsea visit Turin on matchday two.
The contest will see Chiellini renew hostilities with Lukaku, their pair having enjoyed some bruising tussles during the Belgian’s time in Serie A with Inter.
But the Chelsea player Chiellini seems to hold in the highest regard is Jorginho, a player he featured alongside as Italy won Euro 2020 earlier this year.
That success coupled with Chelsea’s Champions League win in 2020-21 saw Jorginho win the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award in August, and Chiellini believes he deserves to add the Ballon d’Or to his collection as well.
Asked about the prospect of going up against Lukaku again, Chiellini said: “Lukaku is a great player, we will have to be careful.
“It will be important not to allow the qualities of champions like Lukaku to come out. He’s a great player, whom they paid a lot for. He’s not there by chance, but maybe it’s a bit diminishing to talk about just the meeting of me and Lukaku – it’s not just Lukaku.
“Chelsea have many champions: let’s think of our great friend Jorginho, who is the ‘lighthouse’ of this team.
25 – Jorginho made 25 interceptions for Italy at EURO 2020; the highest figure recorded at a single edition of the European Championships since this data is available (since 1980). Anticipation. #ITA #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/YYlTceAUjo
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 13, 2021
“I truly hope he can win the Ballon d’or because he’s a good friend of mine and it’s also an award that would feel like it’s mine as an Italian and a player who was involved in the [Euro 2020] win.”
Jorginho has not always had it easy at Chelsea, with many critics sceptical of his suitability to the club and English football in general, but Chiellini believes the fact he has outlasted both Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge is telling.
“I always thought he was a good player but after two or three sessions in the national team under [Roberto] Mancini, I realised just how good he is,” Chiellini continued.
“What a top player he is. He maybe doesn’t have great physical qualities, but the real difference is in his head, his mentality, and I was really happy because many said he could only play with Sarri.
“Instead, two other coaches arrived at Chelsea and then in the national team. Wherever he goes he plays as a regular, so I’m happy for him and he definitely deserves an award, so I truly hope he wins the Ballon d’Or.”
Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri was questioned on the form of his own midfielders, specifically Adrien Rabiot.
The Frenchman has only impressed in spells since joining from Paris Saint-Germain two years ago and Allegri clearly wants more – though he is adamant Rabiot has the capacity to improve.
“It’s similar to [Federico] Bernardeschi,” Allegri said. “The difference among players is when they come to Juve – if a big club chooses them, there’s obviously a reason, but the difference in their career depends on mentality, their specific objective in helping the team and the capacity to improve, being determined in training sessions, scoring, defending.
“These are the elements that make the difference. How many good, technical players haven’t been able to explode in their careers because maybe there was something missing?
“Rabiot is a player, if I was him, I’d be very angry with myself because he’s a player who’s been here two years, how many goals he scored? Ten [six] in two seasons? That’s not acceptable. He needs to improve in order to get much better and I’m pretty sure he’ll be able to do that this year.”
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