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Gabriel Jesus: Talking Points

AWARD WINNER: His blistering form during 2015 not only saw his Palmeiras side lift the Copa do Brasil trophy, he was also chosen as the winner of the prestigious ‘Best Newcomer’ award in Brazilian football

AWARD WINNER: His blistering form during 2015 not only saw his Palmeiras side lift the Copa do Brasil trophy, he was also chosen as the winner of the prestigious ‘Best Newcomer’ award in Brazilian football

What can Manchester City fans expect from new signing Gabriel Jesus?

The excitement around the signing of Gabriel Jesus has been building for some time.

The 19-year-old agreed to join City from Palmeiras in the summer but stayed with the Sao Paulo side for the remainder of their league campaign. It was a wise decision, with Jesus a regular in the team that won the club’s first league title since 1994 at the end of November.

Now he has arrived in Manchester and will come into the first-team reckoning. 

But what will he bring to a side already in a strong position in the Premier League and through to the last 16 of the Champions League? Club journalist Rob Pollard takes a look.

1 Goals

Jesus’ goalscoring ability is hugely impressive and has been since his days in Palmeiras’ youth setup.

Having joined in 2012, he broke the club’s academy goalscoring record with 54 goals in 48 matches – including 37 in 22 in the Campeonato Paulista, Brazil’s under-17 state championships.

He was Palmeiras’ top scorer in the league last season with 12 as they won the Brazilian title, he added four in the Copa Libertadores and he already has five goals in six appearances for the Brazil national team.

In total, he scored 26 goals for club and country during the last campaign. 

Since making his debut for Palmeiras in May 2015, he was involved in one goal - either scoring or assisting - every 150.8 minutes in the Brasileiro.

It’s an incredible record for a 19-year-old - and in a team geared up to attack, he should excel.

Anyone who saw his debut for the senior Brazil side will be aware of his quality. With less than 20 minutes remaining of their game with Ecuador and the score locked at 0-0, Jesus won a penalty with a moment of neat trickery that bamboozled Alexander Dominguez, allowing Neymar to step up and put Brazil ahead.

Then it became the Jesus show. He ingeniously flicked in the second from close range on 87 minutes, before scoring another in added time, turning on the edge of the area and unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Brazil won 3-0 – their first victory in Ecuador since 1983 – and a new star was born.

Look out for his ‘telephone’ celebration, a reference to the constant contact he has with his mother, Vera Lucia, who has played a huge role in supporting him throughout his life.

2 Tactical flexibility

Jesus started his career playing in support positions behind a striker where he would cut in from the left onto his preferred right foot, before moving regularly to a central position for both club and country for much of 2016. 

He’s capable of moments of wonderful improvisation, can take players on and has shown he can play with his back to goal and bring others into play. His work rate may take a few by surprise, too.

He may have to bide his time and wait for opportunities – but his ability to operate in various roles will no doubt help his chances of getting time to impress.

3 Confidence

What a year 2016 was for the youngster.

Olympic Gold, a league title and Player of the Year award and promotion to the senior Brazil side.

Up until 2012, he was playing varzea football – Brazilian grassroots. Now he’s the most exciting South American youngster in the game and set for a new life in the Premier League.

City are getting one of the most confident and talented young players in world football – one who has just enjoyed a dream year of success.

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4 Early days

Despite his obvious talent, Jesus is only 19 years old and, like any youngster, faces a period of adjustment.

He will need to adapt to an unfamiliar league, as well as new team-mates, tactics and demands.

But Guardiola, a man whose attention to detail has been central to his hugely successful management carer, will no doubt devise a plan together with his technical staff that is tailored to the Brazilian to ensure his transition is as smooth as possible.

5 A Champions League boost

With Kelechi Iheanacho set to move to the B list when City’s squad for the Champions League is resubmitted ahead of the knock-out phase, it leaves one spot open for a new signing.

It means Jesus comes straight into the frame for Champions League inclusion and, should he make the resubmitted squad, would offer additional firepower.

If he hits the ground running and makes the cut, it could be a significant fillip for City as they look to improve on last season’s semi-final place in Europe’s elite competition. 

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