By 90Min
July 25, 2018

With just one pre-season game under his belt, Maurizio Sarri already looks to have imprinted his style onto his new crop of players. Of course, all the caveats and irrelevance that pre-season proffers must be considered, but the tempo of the attacking play on show in Perth signified the start of a new era. The era of Sarri-ball. 

Again, a 1-0 friendly victory against middling A-League opposition is not where the Italian will be judged, but the warning signs are already there for those dismissing Chelsea's chances for the upcoming season. 

Already, the attacking movement and possession was at a clip above what we've been privy to at Stamford Bridge for the last...seven years? The Ancelotti years had their moments, although English football was almost a different game back then - cast in a high-press free world.

Will Russell/GettyImages

As for the Mourinho and Conte reigns that have proceeded Carlo, both had their admitted merits, though it was usually the counter attack that was swift, as opposed to the overall keeping of the ball. The highly structured vertical passing system that Sarri integrates is not exactly rocket science, but it can be difficult to execute for those who are used to free-styling their way around the pitch.

And, by the looks of things down under, a massive part of Sarri's renovation job in west London will be channeled through the right boot of Jorge Luiz Frello Filho, or if you want his fantastically Brazilianised abbreviation, Jorginho

As my 90min colleague Jack Gallagher so eloquently put it recently, the former Napoli man is an Opta stats wet dream, and he proved this on Monday. In just 45 minutes, he touched the ball 101 times and completed 98 successful passes - equating to a pass every 27 seconds. You can just hear the statisticians purring. 

But it's not just the sheer numbers that prop up the Italian. Sure, he had his fair share of sideways knocks, but that is to be expected considering his role and position. More impressively, and more importantly, were the moments of incision he provided. It was startling, and joyful, to see the 26-year-old transpose his form from last season almost instantly into his new surroundings. 

Albert Perez/GettyImages

And that is why he will be such a key component in Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea armoury. While the number one question following a precocious (which Sarri is, in managerial years) but trophy-less manager's move to the Premier League is whether he can successfully translate his style to the English game, it is less applicable to Chelsea. The transportation of his midfield metronome from Naples has seen to that. 

With Jorginho in place as the standard-bearer of "Sarrismo" in full flow, it will now be up to the tactician to instil the same amount of confidence in the rest of his squad to play the ball with courage and intent. The price paid is, frankly, irrelevant. Because, in acquiring Jorginho, the club have secured a fast track to Sarri-ball, and therefore displayed a trust in their new Italian that was not afforded to his predecessor.

The former banker has famously and frequently publicised his disinterest in the transfer market, declaring it "boring". This is illustrated by his net spend of just €59.6m over his three seasons at Napoli. One thing he is not averse to, however, is bringing in players who have succeeded under him previously - three of his imports from his first two seasons at Napoli had been with him at Empoli. 

Obviously, this recruitment practice based on familiarity has continued through to Stamford Bridge, and you can't besmirch the thinking behind it. In fact, so worried was Sarri's former boss Aurelio De Laurentiis of this that he was purported to have inserted a clause into Chelsea's deal with the 59-year-old that meant he couldn't take any of his Partenopei players with him. 

The chairman has since declared: "he wanted to take my whole team to England and dismantle it." So far, it has been solely Jorginho. But that may be all that he needs. Of course, there is still plenty of things to worry about as a Blues fan. The future of Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Willian and any one of our 100 central midfielders remains menacingly uncertain. 

But Sarri's ability to not only survive, but thrive following the departure of Gonzalo Higuain in 2016 offers some much needed solace, as does Chelsea's newly crowned midfield general. 

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