Interviews

Let’s Talk: Gabriel Jesus with Paulo Freitas

Manchester City are the latest club linked with Palmeiras sensation Gabriel Jesus, one of the most exciting young prospects emerging in the hotbed that is Brazilian football. According to recent reports, the 19-year-old is one of Pep Guardiola’s objectives this summer, though with a unique release clause and interest from the likes of Barcelona, a deal is far from simple.

To learn more about this special young player, we caught up with Paulo Freitas, a Brazilian football expert who is Brazil’s Head Researcher for Football Manager and a former Sky Sports correspondent.

Gabriel Jesus is turning heads in Brazil and is being linked with Barcelona, Juventus and now Manchester City. Just how good is this kid at the age of 19 and what makes him so special?

He is one of the most promising players in Brazil and a key player for Palmeiras, who is already part of the Olympic team as well. He is special as he is a fairly complete attacking player, with good speed, dribbling and technique. He can create chances for others and he has learned how to finish as well.

He can play on the wing and as a forward, but which position do you think suits him best and plays to his strengths?

He is certainly better playing on the wing as his full skills can be used, if he plays upfront, much of it will be wasted. On the wings he can use his speed better and his technique and dribbling skills become more useful.

Neymar was 21 when he moved to Barca and had much more experience than Gabriel Jesus. At the age of 19, do you think it’s too early for a big move to Europe?

Yes. it’s certainly too early for Gabriel Jesus to move, despite his talent. He is yet to play a Copa Libertadores and he has not been in Palmeiras’ senior team for long. If he plays the Olympics, he will acquire useful experience to play abroad, but he has no need to hurry.

There’s another highly-rated talent in the Brasileiro, Gabigol. He’s also 19 and an attacking player, so I have to ask – who do you think is the better talent of the two right now?

Gabigol has a different set of skills, he is more a finisher than Gabriel Jesus and he is also more experienced, having started at Santos’ senior team earlier than Gabriel Jesus did at Palmeiras. Right now, Gabigol is much readier to play abroad and in Copa América he has shown he can even fight for a place in Brazil’s senior national team squad. In the long term Gabriel Jesus might well surpass him though.

If Gabriel Jesus joined Manchester City, do you think he’d have initial problems adjusting to the English league and Pep Guardiola’s style of play?

I think the English league would be tough because it is more physical than the Brazilian league, but his style would fit Guardiola’s possession-oriented style of play well, and this kind of style would probably minimize the impact of playing in a more physical league, thus suiting Gabriel Jesus.

Finally, in your view, do you think City have a realistic chance of signing him or will he follow the path of Neymar to Barcelona?

Barcelona are clearly favorites to sign Gabriel Jesus as they are one of the five clubs that need a minimum buyout fee to sign him (Bayern, Man Utd, PSG and Real Madrid are the other four teams). The Spanish league would also suit his style better than any other European league. At this point though nothing regarding a transfer should be taken for granted.

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