After five years at the Etihad Stadium, Gabriel Jesus realised it was time for a change. His output for Manchester City was steady, 58 goals in 159 appearances isn’t to be sniffed at, but he was never really the main man under Pep Guardiola’s management – he was a victim of the wealth of talent surrounding him all the time at the Etihad.
Now, with this recent big money move to Arsenal finally done and dusted, he could well step up to be their main man up top next season.
With the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette distant memories down at the Emirates, there’s an excitement around Arsenal with their recent transfer activity and the capture of Jesus. Fabio Vieira’s recent arrival from Portugal sparked excitement too, it will be an intriguing season for those with allegiances to the red side of North London when football comes back around at the start of August. Known for being a fox in the box style striker – Jesus scoring 100% of his Premier League goals from inside the box – Mikel Arteta and Co. will hope he can score some vital goals next season in a positive campaign for The Gunners.
It feels as if he’s been around forever, with the 25-year-old joining Manchester City in 2017 after impressing out in his native Brazil for Palmeiras. It was a dream move for the Brazilian, a chance to show off his skills in the big leagues after initially falling in love with football on the streets as a child. Growing up in Sao Paolo in the neighbourhood of Jardim Peri – an area known for its favelas and football-mad culture – Gabriel Jesus was now an icon to look up to for others growing up in similar circumstances.
He will look back at his five years in Manchester with immense fondness, lifting the Premier League title an astounding four times as a City striker alongside four English League Cups and one solitary FA Cup. Although he might not be regarded as an all-time great to those with City connections – not quite in the same hall of fame as Yaya Toure or Sergio Aguero – but his ability to score goals and finish off chances proved crucial in decisive moments throughout his time as a Manchester City player.
His goal right at the end of the 2017/18 season away at Southampton sticks out, a brilliant touch and finish looping over the keeper’s head for 1-0. That late strike deep into stoppage time at St. Mary’s meant Manchester City finished the Premier League season with 100 points alongside winning the league, the first team in top flight history to achieve that impressive feat.
Seen as a poacher-like finisher throughout his time at the Etihad, a few goals here and there did show off his true quality as an attacker away from finishing off opportunities in the box. A curled strike away at Burnley during the 2019/20 season was a fantastic strike, perfectly finessed into the corner before a second on the night showcased his fox-in-the-box prowess – rifling home from a brilliant delivery into the centre. He’s a natural born finisher, always able to find a goal from nothing when it counts. The likes of Martin Odegaard will constantly create chances for the Brazilian when both players link up at The Emirates, a striker who will lick his lips at the prospect of playing alongside Arsenal’s Norwegian number 8.
Gabriel Jesus even showed his versatility at times under Pep Guardiola, playing as a winger unnaturally when called upon but still showing off his ability down the channels. This recent move to Arsenal might’ve been triggered by Mikel Arteta needing an out-and-out number 9, a striker who simply has the sole task of finishing off chances. As much as Eddie Nketiah showed signs of promise towards the back-end of last campaign, he isn’t somebody you want to solely rely on up top with his relative inexperience. After scoring bags of goals throughout his time at Manchester City, even when he wasn’t the focal point for Pep Guardiola’s side, he will be ready to show off his clinical edge next season for The Gunners.
He’s already made an impact, scoring two goals in a recent friendly against 1. FC Nurnberg out in Germany. His introduction into the contest spurred Arteta’s half-hearted Gunners into life, Arsenal trailing 2-0 to the second division German side before the Brazilian came on. 90 seconds after being introduced into the contest, Arsenal fans knew why significant money had been splashed to bring Jesus to North London. He was instantly on the ball and energetic, combining with an Arsenal teammate before firing into the roof of the net to make it 2-1. The Arsenal fans that made the trip to Bavaria lapped up his opener, a goal to kickstart the comeback and eventually win 5-3.
He would score the final Arsenal goal of the contest too, a typical Gabriel Jesus goal with the Brazilian attacker calmly poking home after a delivery into the centre. The energy Arsenal played with second half all came from Gabriel Jesus’ entry into the contest, a fantastic display from the former City man against the second division German side.
Supporters won’t get carried away however, many new signings star in pre-season games and then flounder when the main bread and butter of league action comes around. Yet, with his wealth of experience and knowledge of the Premier League, he should instantly make an impact when Arsenal kick their season off away at Crystal Palace next month.
Comments taken after his electric second half cameo away at Nurnberg could be misconstrued, the new mega money signing downplaying his ‘superstar’ status – some pundits might see this as Jesus trying to remain cool when he deep down knows his elevated importance for The Gunners. But, as a player who once played street football before making it big, this is a sign of Gabriel Jesus’ humility – a trait that will serve him well at Arsenal, the Gunners fanbase demanding the very best from their players at all times and vocalising their frustrations when they fall short of the mark.
If Jesus can remain level-headed and cool under pressure, he will shine as Arsenal’s main man next season without doubt. In the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who led from the front at The Emirates before moving on, he could be the next hero up top for Arsenal.