It’s fair to say Manchester City have been toothless going forward in recent games, having found the net only twice in their last five fixtures after an early goal glut. Sergio Aguero hasn’t scored for over a month, while Kelechi Iheanacho has only one goal in the same period.
City have only two traditional forwards on the books and with no plans to spend big in January, there would be more cause for concern if a £27 million goal machine wasn’t on his way to the Etihad.
Summer signing Gabriel Jesus has found the net 27 times since the start of the year, and only turned 19 in April. The teenager is possibly the most exciting talent to emerge from Brazil since Neymar, and has just six matches remaining as a Palmeiras player. After that, he is likely to be handed a short break before joining up with the City squad in January.
Gabriel has 11 goals in this season’s Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and scored 4 goals in 5 Copa Libertadores fixtures, but it is his emergence for the Brazil national team that has made headlines. The Seleção recently called him up from the under-21 team and he has repaid Tite with four goals in as many games, making a seamless transition from youth to senior level.
On his debut for Brazil against Ecuador, the São Paulo-born talent, who can play on the left wing or up front, scored a brace and also contributed an assist. Last month, he added to his tally with strikes against Bolivia and Venezuela. 4 caps, 4 goals, 2 assists – these numbers have Brazilians excited about their affable golden boy.
Perhaps a sign of the expectations placed on his shoulders, Gabriel has been handed the number 9 shirt, once worn by legend Ronaldo. Il Fenomeno has had his say on Gabriel Jesus, telling Globo TV in July, “I’m a fan of Gabriel as I look at him and see myself when I was younger.”
We don’t know yet how Pep Guardiola will utilise Gabriel. Though right-footed, he likes to cut inside from the left flank and drive past defenders, but his talent as a centre-forward could also tempt Pep to play him there if Aguero and Iheanacho continue to be profligate in front of goal.
At just 19 and with no experience in Europe, it’s likely that Gabriel will need time to adjust to the demands of the Premier League, much like Leroy Sané. However, he possesses the pace, trickery and movement to cause problems against the compact defences City are often up against, and could be a weapon for Pep in the second half of the season.
Gabriel Jesus has the perfect skill set to become a successful Pep Guardiola striker and fear not, he is no Robinho – he will track back and contribute defensively. He said in an earlier interview, “I like a challenge. The biggest battles go to the biggest warriors,” and will not shirk from the physicality of the Premier League.
Guardiola has barely been able to contain his excitement at the prospect of working with Gabriel Jesus and we’ll soon see the magic these two can create together. Jesus is coming and there is reason to be very excited.