Mens Team

Gabriel Jesus ready to take on striking mantle

Gabriel Jesus ready to take on striking mantle
Gabriel Jesus says he is ready to lead Manchester City’s forward line in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero.

Ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League tie with Shakhtar Donetsk Pep Guardiola revealed a thigh injury picked up against Chelsea has ruled Aguero out for a few weeks, leaving Jesus as the only recognised senior striker.

The two have shared the centre-forward role this season, both making 16 appearances, but Guardiola has elected to start the Argentine more often.

READ | Guardiola provides Aguero injury update

Jesus admits he was aware that may be the case when he signed for the Club, but with the opportunity to enjoy a run of starts, the 22-year-old is ready to embrace that responsibility of leading the line.

“I’m not happy because Sergio is injured,” he said.

“I don’t like it when my friends are injured but I work hard every day. I’m ready to play and show every time that I want to improve.

“At times it isn’t easy [not playing]. But I want to play, work and improve my football. So that is why sometimes I feel unhappy because I want to play, but I respect that and keep on working.

“When I decided to come, I knew it would be hard because we have Sergio, who is the top scorer in the club and scores every game. But I thought I have a chance to play with Pep, with top players and at big club, so that is why I came, to enjoy and learn.

“Sergio is a great guy and a top player. I have to keep learning with him.”

Despite enduring two lengthy spells on the sideline himself, Jesus has made a telling contribution since arriving at City in January 2017.

He has netted 50 goals and provided 19 assists in the 116 appearances he has made, but Guardiola has always been keen to highlight that the youngster boasts other valuable attributes.

The manager particularly enjoys Jesus’ relentless pressing of defenders and appreciates the selection scenario can be difficult,

But he is a player Guardiola admires, both for his talent and his attitude.

“It is tough for Jesus but he is so humble and accepts situation,” the boss said.

“It is not news when a player is not happy when he doesn’t play. I understand that, but what is important is training. Gabriel never fails in one training session.

“He’s a guy who says he wants to improve. He listens a lot, feels bad if he doesn't play or score but I admire him. Gabriel is excellent, he plays good in games and sessions.

“In the last Copa America he played so good and came back with confidence in himself.  I have no doubt he will play well in next weeks when Sergio is gone.”

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