To say it has been a difficult season for Manchester City and a tough transition to life in English football for Pep Guardiola would be an understatement.
The Spaniard has been reminded time and again that the Premier League is no Bundesliga or La Liga as all teams are capable of beating each other on any given day. The 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Everton further proof, if ever Pep needed it.
But, the Etihad Stadium club needed a boost and they got it – in the form of a man, well a 19-year-old youngster, named Gabriel Jesus.
The Brazilian starlet, who arrived in Manchester last summer, displaced Sergio Aguero as City routed West Ham 4-0 last weekend – and he has scored three goals in as many league outings.
Against the Hammers, the former Palmeiras striker more than justified his selection and was at the centre of everything Pep’s team did well.
His pace, movement and technical ability stood out like a needle in a haystack, simply put, he was a delight to watch. Jesus has needed little time to light up the Premier League and City fans have every reason to think that the young Brazil international could be their key man for many years to come.
In fact, Jesus has looked every inch like the man capable of filling Aguero’s shoes – not that the brilliant Argentine is anywhere near done yet.
But, wearing his short-sleeved shirt, gloves and possessing a similar hands-spread celebration to the man he displaced in the starting XI – it did truly seem like we were looking at Aguero II.
Jesus played without pressure and showed no signs of fearing the big stage. This, despite the fact, he cost City a whopping Dhs124m (£27m) in August.
The striker had a phenomenal game against Slaven Bilic’s men, mustering an assist and a goal to punctuate the trickery and movement that left defenders wrong footed all over the pitch.
Comparing his new kid on the block to a watermelon, Guardiola was of the opinion that though Jesus had potential and none of it went unheard, it was for him to show it yet again on the pitch. The Brazilian certainly didn’t disappoint.
It wasn’t just about his skills but the positive energy that he brought to the team. It was a much-needed breath of fresh air for Pep’s men.
The teen wasn’t just playing free-flowing football up top but was pro-active, too – tackling and tracking back at every opportunity, and in turn, giving City a whole new dimension. And with pace on his side, City always had the option to counter with five men on the breakaway.
In both of the goals Jesus was involved in, he showed intelligence to be in the right place at the right time and was at the heart of the attacking movements – ending one of them with a fine finish to open his account.
City have now got an absolute fighter in their ranks.
It’s not just his footballing prowess but more his attitude and character which are so appealing.
Acreditar , essa é a palavra que mantém meu sonho vivo 🙏 pic.twitter.com/iQNerTafrF— Gabriel Jesus (@gabrieljesus33) January 30, 2017
With Aguero unlikely to remain on the bench for much longer, one would assume Jesus would need to occupy one of the wings. But with no ego, age on his side and pace to back it up, he could still flourish on the flanks. One would expect him to use his speed to get in position to cross while on other occasions he could just cut-in and score by himself.
Having been described by Pele as a player better than Neymar, Jesus fired Palmeiras to the 2016 title and won the Brasileirao’s Golden Ball award in the process.
It didn’t take too much time until the youngster made his way on the international stage – powering Brazil U23s to Olympic gold on home soil.
And, after last summer’s Copa America debacle, the qualification campaign was headed in the same direction – before Jesus came to the rescue – helping to send the Green and Yellows top of the South American qualifying group.
It speaks volumes that Jesus has proven he can shoulder big responsibility at such a young age and he is the right man to lead City’s second-half of the season resurgence.
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