Gunner Jorginho: A Brief History of Italian Players at Arsenal

Jorginho has completed a deadline day move across London as the Italian midfielder swapped blue for red in a £12 million move from Chelsea to Arsenal.

Arsenal had been in search for a midfielder all window and had already pursued Moises Caicedo at Brighton up until the final hours of the transfer window. However, with the Seagulls standing firm on keeping hold of one of their star assets, Mikel Arteta had to look at alternatives.

Arteta has long been a fan of Jorginho, having previously wanted to sign the 31-year-old on a couple of different occasions, and he will now finally link up with the Italian as he looks to bolster Arsenal’s title bid.

Jorginho will become just the fourth-ever Italian to play for Arsenal and the former Napoli man will add important cover to the midfield. Below, we take you through a brief history of Italian players at Arsenal as well as the impact Jorginho could have on their title hopes for this season.

From Hero to Zero?

It was less than two years ago when Jorginho helped the Azzurri to glory at Euro 2020 and Chelsea to a Champions League title. This led him to winning UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for the season, as well as finishing in third place at the 2021 Ballon d’Or. There’s no doubting that Jorginho has the ability to excel at the elite level.

However, since his excellent campaign over the 2020/21 season, Jorginho has seen a dip in form. Not only for Chelsea but also for Italy as he missed two key penalty kicks which ultimately led to the Azzurri failing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Certainly, the situation at Chelsea has done very little to help his form in the Premier League and the Italy national team has deeper issues than a couple of missed kicks from the spot.

Can Jorginho Prosper at Arsenal?

Jorginho will now be coming into an Arsenal side who are sitting pretty at the top of the table and in the midst of playing high-quality football. This situation could be perfect for him to rediscover his form.

The 31-year-old adds excellent strength in depth to the Arsenal squad, particularly in light of the news that Mohamed Elneny will be out for the season. Albert Sambi Lokonga was also loaned out late on in the window to fellow Premier League outfit Crystal Palace.

Jorginho will be heading to the Emirates Stadium for more than just a bit part role and he certainly has the ability to become a prominent member of the squad. His leadership and experience at the top level speaks volumes.

Initially, however, Jorginho has been added to the squad for cover to Thomas Partey in the defensive midfield role. Although, both Jorginho and Partey offer differing qualities. The Brazilian-born midfielder suits the role as a regista or as a deep-lying playmaker and will look to control the tempo of the game through his exceptional passing ability and football IQ. Jorginho’s intelligence is certainly one of his most impressive qualities and will help provide the ‘director’s’ role for Arsenal when needed.

Italian Gunners

Jorginho also becomes only the fourth-ever Italian to play for Arsenal and first-ever Italian midfielder to do so. Vito Mannone and Emiliano Viviano are two Italian goalkeepers who used to play for the Gunners, whilst Arturo Lupoli left the Parma youth team in 2004 to join Arsène Wenger in North London.

Mannone left Atalanta in 2005 at the age of just 17 to join Arsenal and would go on to make 15 appearances for the club, whilst fellow ‘keeper Viviano failed to make a single competitive appearance for the Gunners.

Lupoli also failed to make much of an impact during his time with Arsenal, making just one league appearance for the club over a three-year period. However, the former Fiorentina man did find limited success in the both the League Cup and FA Cup, scoring a total of three goals for the Gunners.

What Could Have Been for Lupoli?

Lupoli certainly offers the most interesting story out of the three Italians. Having scored 45 goals in 22 games for Parma Under-17s, Lupoli had a bright future. A move to Arsenal where the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp had blossomed seemed to be a good landing spot for the prodigy but Lupoli was never able to take his success at youth level to first team football.

Despite things not working out for Lupoli for Arsenal, interest was still high back home in Serie A, with both Milan and Inter reportedly interested in the Italian. Although it looked like Lupoli was heading for a move to Napoli, instead he wound up with the Viola but failed to make a single appearance.

Loans back to England would follow but he failed to impress at either Norwich City or Sheffield United and would return to Italy in 2009. Lupoli would spend the rest of his career in the lower leagues of Italy at clubs such as Ascoli and Grosseto, meaning he would never live up to his initial hype.

Jorginho aims to become the most successful Italian at Arsenal and it won’t take much to do so. He could even already take the honour in just a few months, especially if he is to help lead Arteta’s side to Premier League glory and end their 19-year drought for the title.