Jesus was carried off with medial knee ligament damage during the 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace on December 31 and the initial diagnosis was that he faced up to six weeks out, leaving him in a race to be fit by mid-February.
But the Brazil international, 20, has responded well to a visit to Barcelona this week, to be treated by Ramon Cugat, the surgeon Guardiola regularly turns to when his players are battling serious injuries.
“Yesterday, he was in Barcelona with Dr Cugat, and at the end, the news was quite good,” said the City boss, who has been short of striking options since the injury to Jesus.
“When we play Basel in the Champions League, he could be ready. I think, in two or three weeks he’ll be ready and with us.”
City, who lead the Premier League by a gaping 15 points, play the Swiss side in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie on February 13.
Guardiola was reluctant to comment on his chances of signing Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal during the January transfer window, instead saying that his focus was on maintaining City’s fine form when they travel to Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday.
City remain favourites to sign the Chile forward, who is out of contract at the end of the season and has made clear that he wishes to leave the Emirates Stadium but Manchester United are reported to have joined the race for his signature.
“I understand completely why you ask this question, it’s your job,” said Guardiola. “But you know my answer. I am focused on Liverpool.”
“What’s important is what happens over 90 minutes on the field,” he added. “That is what I want to speak about.
“The players have two choices: Follow what you (the media) say, or follow me. I hope to convince them to follow what I am talking about. It’s about football, football, football on the pitch.”
The City boss said the match against in-form Liverpool at Anfield would give him a good idea of how far his team could go in the Champions League this season.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 12, 2018
“It is a real test at Anfield, one of the most prestigious stadiums,” he said. “It’s a big game for us and we’re going to prepare as best as possible.
“If you want to achieve something good, win titles, you have to not just win but win at these kind of stages. At Stamford Bridge we were able. Old Trafford we were able.
“We’ve still got tough teams to come. It is such an important game to see if we are able to do big things – especially in the Champions League stages.
“It means a lot in terms of how complicated it is to play there.”
Provided by AFP Sport
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Manchester United are looking to bolster their strike force in the January transfer window and are reported to have made inquiries about signing Jamie Vardy from Leicester City and Javier Hernandez from West Ham, according to the Telegraph.
Vardy missed out on the golden boot in the 2015-16 season by one goal and already has nine in this campaign, while Hernandez played at Old Trafford between 2010 and 2015.
Liverpool are looking to offload Daniel Sturridge – but want £30m for the striker, the Liverpool Echo reports. Sturridge, 28, is looking to leave Anfield during the transfer window for first-team football as he bids to be part of England’s World Cup squad.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp wants to bring in Leicester and Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez as a replacement for Philippe Coutinho, the Daily Express reports.
Antonio Conte is to leave the Chelsea hot seat at the end of the season, the Daily Mail says. The paper reports that the new Stamford Bridge boss could be Massimiliano Allegri, who is currently at Juventus, or former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique. Former boss Carlo Ancelotti is not in the frame despite winning the double in 2010, it is reported.
Everton are prepared to pay £20m for Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, according to the Telegraph. Walcott, 28, could call time on his 12-year stay at the Emirates after being left on the bench when his side took on Chelsea, the paper said.
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PLAYERS TO WATCH
Manchester United will put a bid in for Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic if their Premier League rivals also express an interest, according to the Independent.
The Old Trafford side are also mulling a bid for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian midfielder Fred, according to the Daily Record.
This latest revelation on the January transfer window has raised several questions.
Here, Sport360’s Brendon Netto provides a few answers.
SANCHEZ OR OZIL THE PRIORITY?
For months, a reunion for Jose Mourinho and Mesut Ozil has been on the cards only for United to move for Sanchez instead.
Arsenal aren’t going to sell both players to the Red Devils so they’re going to have to prioritise.
During Paul Pogba’s absence, United’s lack of creativity was palpable and recruiting Ozil would go some way to rectifying that.
On paper though, even if the unreliable Henrikh Mkhitaryan is shown the door, United do have creative options in Juan Mata and perhaps Jesse Lingard given the latter’s recent form.
Let’s not forget their ongoing pursuit of Antoine Griezmann either and to a lesser extent, that of Paulo Dybala. Not to mention the impressive Andreas Pereira on loan at Valencia who is widely expected to be part of United’s first team squad next term.
Mourinho made it clear that he landed three out of four of his summer targets and it’s a poorly kept secret that Ivan Perisic was the one that got away, a left winger.
It stands to reason then that the Portuguese is desperate to make up for that failure and landing Sanchez would more than accomplish that. Clearly, the United boss believes a quality winger should be top priority.
JUST A PLOY BY ARSENAL TO RAISE THE TRANSFER FEE?
This is very likely. United are used time and time again to drive up a player’s transfer fee. However, if this is indeed Arsenal’s strategy, it’s ill-advised.
Sanchez may be desperate to leave the Gunners, reunite with Pep Guardiola and win trophies with City but the Citizens are hardly pining for the 29-year-old.
Of course, they want Sanchez. He would improve their squad, just like he would any in Europe. But the transfer only really makes sense for City if it’s a bargain. Pay any more than they’re already willing and it won’t be.
Guardiola has a wealth of attacking talent at his disposal. Even taking Gabriel Jesus’ injury into consideration, they boast an embarrassment of riches. They’re on course to stroll to the Premier League title, are one result away from a League Cup final and are among the frontrunners in the Champions League.
Come the summer, they will be able to cherry pick the best attacking talent Europe has to offer. Why then pay over the odds for a 29-year-old on enormous wages with six months left on his contract? There’s no need for that sort of desperation.
United on the other hand would give an arm and a leg – roughly translating to £25m, a salary package upwards of £300,000 and Henrikh Mkhitaryan – to recruit someone of Sanchez’s calibre and experience.
Hence, it’s possible that United’s interest is indeed genuine.
WHICH IS THE BETTER OPTION FOR SANCHEZ?
Simply put – City.
Yes, at United he would be afforded a starring role, fans would fawn over him, he’d probably don the famous number 7 jersey and be remembered for lifting the curse that’s been attached to it since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.
But at City, he’d have a Premier League winner’s medal around his neck within months.
There’s also the Guardiola factor of course. He’s eager to play under the Spaniard again and will enjoy City’s free-flowing approach.
At 29 though, Sanchez needs to make the most of the time he has at the top and at City, he can do just that. United on the other hand are very much a work in progress, a step up from Arsenal no doubt, but the Blue half of Manchester is where the finished article lies.