PEP GUARDIOLA says Manchester City are getting on just fine without Jorginho – as he prepares to go up against his long-term target today.
And it is largely thanks to Fernandinho’s outstanding form that the Italian’s snub has not affected the champions.
Reuters6 Pep Guardiola's side are top of the Premier League after 15 games
City’s pursuit of the midfielder, 26, dragged on for much of the summer and he appeared nailed on to move from Napoli to the Etihad.
But an 11th-hour swoop from Jorginho’s old boss Maurizio Sarri saw Chelsea pinch him from under their noses.
At the time, missing out on the £57million man looked like it could be a big blow for Guardiola.
It still might prove to be — but only if anything serious should happen to Fernandinho this season.
Getty – Contributor6 Jorginho snubbed Man City to join Maurizio Sarri's side
Asked about his summer target, Guardiola said: “He decided to go there. I’m not going to say it is a bad decision: he knows the manager, he knows the club — Chelsea, an exceptional club. So all the best.”
Jorginho was viewed as a long-term successor to Fernandinho, 33, who is having another superb season for City.
Guardiola will have to tread carefully as he is arguably the only player without a similar replacement in the squad.
But the Etihad boss says there are not many players in world football who can do what the ‘incredible’ Brazilian does for his side.
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Getty Images – Getty6 Fernandinho has been a huge hit for Pep Guardiola's side this season
Pep has never hidden his admiration for the ex-Shakhtar Donetsk man and added: “He (Jorginho) was not coming to compete with Fernandinho but to be part of our team.
“Few, few players can do what he does. Few, few players all around the world. He can do virtually everything.
"What Fernandinho has done, not just this season but all the years we’ve been together, is incredible.
“Most of the good things we have in this moment is thanks to that guy.
“I am very pleased for him and sure he will continue that way.”
In the summer, City will continue their hunt for the man who will one day succeed Fernandinho — yet they are big boots to fill.
AFP or licensors6 Maurizio Sarri made a late swoop to sign Jorginho from Napoli
Ajax’s Frenkie de Jong, Tanguy Ndombele of Lyon and Wolves ace Ruben Neves are all names under consideration.
But as long as the Samba star stays fit, they can manage without any of them.
City have certainly negotiated the hard yards already — tonight’s game at Chelsea is the club’s last away match against a genuine title rival.
They collected seven points from games at Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool — and Guardiola will be hoping to hit double figures tonight.
Last year at Stamford Bridge, City made a huge statement by outplaying the reigning champions of the time in their own backyard.
Guardiola said: “Last season, winning there was more than three points. It showed we could do it.
Getty – Contributor6 Jorginho is expected to start for Chelsea against City on Saturday
“It was an important step for last season, the first important game away against the last champions.
“It was important to say, ‘We can go anywhere and deliver a good performance — and win’. The target is to try to do it again.”
Guardiola hinted he could choose to use Raheem Sterling as a central striker if Gabriel Jesus continues to struggle for goals.
Along with Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez, the City boss has wingers in blistering form but is currently without striker Sergio Aguero.
He said: “We have Raheem, who can play in many, many positions.
“He can play as No 10 but with his versatility he can play up front in a three in any of the positions.”
AP:Associated Press6 Pep Guardiola could chose to play Raheem Sterling as a central striker in a bid for more goals