Arsenal have signed Jorginho from Chelsea in a Deadline Day deal worth £12m, boosting their midfield ahead of a push for the Premier League title.
The 31-year-old Italy midfielder has signed an 18-month contract, with an option to extend for a further year.
Jorginho was into the final six months of his Chelsea contract, with the Blues trying to land a British record transfer for Benfica central midfielder Enzo Fernandez.
Under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal tried to sign Jorginho from Chelsea in the summer of 2020, just after he won the Champions League with the Blues and the year before he lifted the European Championships with Italy.
Arteta was also the assistant coach at Manchester City when they tried to sign him in 2018 – but Jorginho turned down the move to join Maurizio Sarri instead at Chelsea from Napoli.
Speaking to the Arsenal website about Arteta, Jorginho said: “He was a big influence because I know that he tried a few times to get me before and it didn’t happen due to other reasons, not because of my wishes.
“I’m very excited for this new challenge, and I just can’t wait to be on the pitch to be honest! Everything has happened so fast. I was a bit surprised, but I took the opportunity of this amazing challenge.”
Arsenal are short on options in midfield and revealed on Deadline Day Egypt international Mohamed Elneny has suffered a “significant” knee injury.
A club statement read: “Following an injury sustained in a recent training session, subsequent assessments have confirmed that Mohamed Elneny has a significant injury to his right knee. Mo has had successful surgery in London and will be ruled out for an extended period of time.”
Meanwhile, Arsenal midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga has joined Crystal Palace on loan. There are also ongoing injury concerns over Thomas Partey, who has picked up a rib injury.
The Gunners twice bid for Moises Caicedo in the final week of the January window but Brighton remained adamant the midfielder was not for sale.
Analysis: Carragher positive on Jorginho move
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher:
“With maybe 10 games to go in the season, when they might actually need cool heads, when there is a pressure moment and the nerves are coming on in that title run-in with seven or eight games to go, he may actually be a really good signing in terms of slowing things down with a cool head.
“He is a player that has won the Champions League, he has won a European Championship in the last few years, so he is a top player, there is no doubt about that, but he is a different style of player.
“But I think that could be a big help for them towards the end of the season as they get nervous.”
FLASHBACK: When Arsenal tried to sign Jorginho on a 2020 Deadline Day
We have been here before with Arsenal looking to sign Jorginho on Deadline Day. Rewind to October 2020 when Mikel Arteta first tried to tempt the Italian to make the switch across London.
Here’s how Sky Sports reported it at the time…
Squad depth, Europe, experience… why Arsenal went for Jorginho
Sky Sports News’ Gail Davis:
“People may be surprised, when you look at the profile of players Arsenal had been signing but Arteta had made the point on the day they signed Leandro Trossard that they need players who are fit and ready to go straight off in the Premier League. That’s what Jorginho is.
“Arsenal are short in the midfield area. The squad is looking thin there.
“Europe is about to start and they’ll be going Thursday-Sunday-Thursday-Sunday and they want somebody else in.
“When you look at where Arsenal are now, they’ve got a great chance of winning the Premier League for the first time in 20 years. Arteta understands the demands on his squad are going to be greater over the next few months and that’s why he had to get bodies in.”
Lokonga joins Crystal Palace on loan
With Jorginho’s arrival at Arsenal announced, Lokonga’s loan deal to Crystal Palace was unveiled within the final hour of the January transfer window.
The Belgian midfielder has moved to Selhurst Park on a straight loan deal until the end of the season.
The midfielder said: “I’m really excited – I can’t wait to get started. I’m really happy to join Crystal Palace. I want to go as far as possible with the team. I will try to push for me and the team to do the maximum to reach the top.”
Lokonga will link up with Patrick Vieira’s side having made just six Premier League appearances for Arsenal this season, starting just two games.
His last Premier League minutes came in the north London derby victory over Tottenham on October 1.
Analysis: Arsenal can’t wait for a new midfielder
Sky Sports’ Nick Wright:
One of the most important factors behind Arsenal’s success this season is that they have been able to keep Partey fit. The Ghanaian was sorely missed during his periods on the sidelines last term and Arsenal’s record with and without him proves it.
In fact, factor in the current campaign as well and Arsenal’s win rate stands at 74 per cent in the Premier League games he has started compared to just 50 per cent in the ones he has missed.
The gulf in quality between him and his deputies, Elneny and Albert Sambi Lokonga, is simply too large and the Egyptian’s injury exposes Arsenal’s lack of depth even more glaringly.
Waiting until the summer, when the club hope to recruit Declan Rice from West Ham, is now even riskier than it was and that means action is required before the end of January window.
Arsenal’s schedule has been relatively kind since Christmas, but it ramps up with a run of four Premier League games in 14 days at the start of February, and that’s followed by the resumption of their Europa League campaign in March.
Partey’s load will need to be managed in order to minimise the risk of injury and that will only be possible if Mikel Arteta is granted his wish for a viable alternative in the 29-year-old’s position.
Arsenal’s recruitment in recent years has centred on the long-term but right now, top of the Premier League and with the added burden of European commitments to come, a short-term solution is needed.