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Lionel Messi clear £60m Chelsea verdict highlights why Declan Rice risk is worth taking

It was noteworthy that Lionel Messi singled out Jorginho for praise in his post-match comments on Wednesday after Argentina beat Italy at Wembley in the ‘Finalissima’ 3-0.

Despite his nation’s pretty comfortable victory and another individual example of his genius, Messi, completely unprompted namechecked the Chelsea midfielder on the complicated task of facing him.

The first half was a bit complicated for us because we couldn’t find a way around Jorginho, who played a bit free and that made it difficult for us to get the ball.” Jorginho had received criticism for his performance on the evening, culpable for giving the ball away for one of the goals.

Jorginho enters a summer with his future uncertain at Stamford Bridge. As he begins the final year of his current contract at Chelsea, it appears unlikely a long-term deal is around the corner, meaning that the club will either have to cash in on him this window or face the prospect of losing him for nothing in 12 months time.

Although there is a good argument for selling Jorginho now, the difficulty in replacing him with one of Chelsea’s preferred targets poses an awkward question. With Aurelien Tchouameni seemingly Madrid-bound, the clearest alternative to Declan Rice now appears off the table.

The Blues’ interest in Rice is no secret, nor is the concept of Rice being open to returning to his boyhood club either. Though West Ham’s hardened stance of not for sale, or valuing Rice beyond £100million makes any deal a big hurdle. It’s even questionable whether a deal would be feasible in a summer where Chelsea need to invest in other areas across the squad.

Jorginho had the best year of his career in 2021. He became a regular under Thomas Tuchel, won the Champions League and he did the same with his nation at the European Championships. The Ballon d’Or top three nomination and winning UEFA Men’s Player of the Year only further bolstered a standout period.

But as we have got further away from 2021 and the strain on the 29-year-old has increased, the reality of his limitations have been hard to hide. The flaws in Jorginho’s skillset are no secret, nor have they recently surfaced. Even if Chelsea cannot secure Rice, cashing in on Jorginho would be much wiser than losing both him and N’Golo Kante for nothing a year later.

Chelsea fans have got the full Jorginho experience since 2018. They know his strengths and weaknesses. They know what he can and cannot do. That is highly unlikely to change at this point of his career; there is no third-act twist here.

Even if you sell Jorginho, there will be a chance to promote from within. The excitement over Billy Gilmour might have lessened due to his poor loan at Norwich, though every time he has played in a Chelsea shirt he has looked accomplished and mature.

Conor Gallagher will return from his successful loan at Crystal Palace, though his profile although exciting, does not match the sort of profile Chelsea need in a deeper midfield area.

Ethan Ampadu has played in central midfield before even though in recent years he has been fielded in a back-three as a central defender. Ruben Loftus-Cheek, a year injury-free and gaining more fitness is not the dream solution but has become used to the demands of Tuchel.

And Mateo Kovacic is coming off the back of an impressive season where he clearly stood out as Chelsea’s most consistent and impactful midfielder in front of both Jorginho and Kante.

Chelsea needs to sell as well as they buy this summer, Jorginho could stick around for another year but that would only be prolonging the inevitable and could cost money they could gain to reinvest in the squad for Tuchel.

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