Monaco quickly became the neutrals favourite last season with the youthful, exuberant side that reached the Champions League semi-final and won the French league. The price of their success has put most of their star performers in the shop window, with the likes of Bernardo Silva and Tiemoue Bakayoko leaving for big money this summer.
Reportedly next to join the exodus is left back Benjamin Mendy, who is rumoured to be heading to Manchester City for up to €50m. Sensing which way the wind was blowing, Monaco lined up Mendy’s successor in January and signed promising Brazilian full back Jorge from Flamengo for €8.5m – the highest fee ever received by the Rio-based giants.
Jorge Marco de Oliveira Moraes – to give him his full name – had been with hometown club Flamengo since the age of 11 and in his last two years established himself as one of the best full-backs in the division while still a teenager. Compared to club legend Junior and nicknamed ‘Jorge Alba’, the skilful defender racked up 87 appearances in the 24 months before his move to the French Riviera.
The agile left back also made a name for himself on the international stage, starring for the Brazil side that finished as runners up at the U20 World Cup in 2015. Even though full back is a position in which the Seleção are spoilt for choice, Jorge recently made his debut for the senior side in a friendly against Colombia and is clearly highly regarded by national team boss Tite.
With Mendy on his way out the door this could be a golden opportunity for Jorge to stake a spot for himself as the starting left back for a new-look Monaco. So what can expect from the promising Brazilian?
While most Brazilian full-backs are lauded for the attacking side of their game, what marks Jorge out as such an outstanding talent is that he has the defensive capabilities as well as the ability to get forward. A very clean tackler of the ball, Jorge averaged 3.5 successful tackles a game during his two years in the Brasileirao and picked up very few cards in the process.
As the video below shows, Jorge demonstrates good decision-making about when to go to ground and has the timing and technique to execute slide tackles effectively. There is nothing rash about his challenges and he is also good at pressing high up the pitch, using the ball effectively once he has robbed it from his opposition winger.
In the occasions he is caught out of position, Jorge reads the game very well for a defender age and possesses the pace to make good recovery runs and use his fine tackling skills to snuff out the danger.
Interceptions & Positioning
No player under age of 21 made more interceptions (94) than Jorge in his final Brasileirao season and he averaged around 3 a game during his two years in the Flamengo senior side. This good intercepting ability largely comes from his impressive positioning and reading of the game and he has the requisite aerial presence and anticipation to defend crosses at the back post too.
His tactical awareness, good passing (82.2% on average) and mature reading of the game has led some to suggest that he may well have a future in a midfield position, much akin to compatriot and club mate Fabinho. He still has some work to do on his positioning during transitions to defence but the potential is there.
Dribbling & Accelerations
Jorge complements his solid defensive qualities with the attack-minded style of play that Brazilian full-backs are famed for. More nimble and skilful than the powerful bursts of his predecessor Mendy, he has the technique to beat a man but only when the time is right and is just as comfortable coming in off the flank into the half spaces as overlapping on the outside.
His aforementioned pace and reading of the game means that he is able to initiate counter-attacks from deep and carry the ball forward quickly and effectively, as shown in the second half of the video below.
Actions in the final third
The importance of full-backs in the modern game has grown enormously and particularly in the attacking phases they are now expected to contribute more than ever. Jorge certainly does not shirk these responsibilities, even if he is not the most overly offensive full-back.
As you would expect from someone with some precise passing, Jorge’s crossing is also an effective tool. His pace, dribbling and composure see him take up good positions for crossing, although he still needs to register more assists than he currently does. Not a man who wants to waste possession with an aimless toss into the box, sometimes he could do with perhaps taking more of a gamble on occasions.
An area of Jorge’s game that has improved is his shooting and while he doesn’t score lots of goals, he knows how to find the back of the net. In particular, his strikes against Figueirense and Ponte Preta displayed his excellent technique when striking a ball.
A goal and man of the match performance on his debut for Monaco in a 3-2 win versus Rennes was a good early indicator of his attacking capabilities and perhaps it’s a side of his game we’ll see honed at the principality club.
After six months spent biding his time and acclimatising to his new surroundings, Jorge now has the perfect opportunity to stamp down a marker for a starting role for Monaco in what could be a big twelve months for the 21-year-old. Given Monaco’s focus on youth and relatively pressure-free environment, it should be the perfect place to develop and take his first steps in Europe. The likes of Manchester City and Inter Milan have previously expressed an interest and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pitch up at a bigger club in a few years’ time.
While a place in the Brazil squad for Russia looks a remote possibility, he certainly has the makings of a future international regular. With Marcelo, Filipe Luis and Alex Sandro all ahead of him and competition from Alex Telles, Wendell, Douglas Santos, Zeca and Guilherme Arana, he will have a tough fight on his hands though.