Romario, Ronaldo, and now Gabriel Jesus? Once world famous for the quality of their strikers, after a gap in talent which saw Fred represent their best striking option for an entire World Cup cycle, Brazil seem to have unearthed another gem in Jesus, to Manchester City’s immediate gain.
Signed from Palmeiras last summer, the 19-year-old only arrived in January from Brazil following the conclusion of the Campeonato Brasilerio Série A season. There, he scored 12 goals as the team won their first national championship since 1994, and he was named Bola de Ouro for player of the season.
With Sergio Aguero the star of Manchester, this young talent seemed more of a star for the future. In fact, it was hard to envisage Jesus getting many starts given Guardiola’s tendency to play with only a single striker, or sometimes none at all.
The opportunity for Jesus has arrived after another injury-disrupted season for Aguero, which has become almost an annual occurrence at this point.
One of the greatest strikers in the Premier League era on form, and with one of the best goals to games ratios in history, Aguero has amazingly never been in the Premier League Team of the Season since arriving in 2011. This is usually due to a mid-season injury, where his striking rivals tally up goals in his absence.
Aguero once again started this season with a bang, scoring five goals in his first four Premier League games. But a series of underwhelming performances against the bigger teams in the league, with only two of his last 39 Premier League goals coming against top 6 sides, had not impressed Guardiola who said that he must raise his level in big games.
When Aguero got sent off against Chelsea for an incredibly rash challenge on David Luiz, it angered Guardiola, who was left dealing with the Christmas period with only Kelechi Iheanacho as a striking option.
It was in this context that Guardiola needed a saviour, with Man City slipping down from top at the beginning of the season to outside the top 4 places.
And that saviour was Jesus, who has supplanted the Man City legend from the City side since his arrival. With three goals and two assists from his first two Premier League starts, ironically Man City fans have experienced the same buzz that they had when a young Aguero arrived at the City of Manchester Stadium, even scoring twice as well on his home debut against Swansea.
Along with the much needed dropping of hapless Claudio Bravo for Willy Caballero and the return of Fernandinho, Jesus has been a key factor in Man City’s recent revival.
In particular, his link-up play with Leroy Sané, another extremely talented 21-year-old from Germany, has tormented defences.
Guardiola admits even he is surprised by the stunning start Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus has made to his career in English football.
“In the box, he is something special with the ball,” Guardiola said.
“It is clear how his first touch is good. With his second, third, he needs to improve, but without the ball he is involved.
“He is so intelligent, knows when to put pressure on the central defenders.”
Aguero is clearly worried about Jesus’ impact, concerned about his future at the club if he remains on the bench.
“I have to help the team as much as I can in these three months. Afterwards we’ll see what the club wants to do with me,” said Aguero.
“I want to stay, of course. In three years my contract is up, that’s why I say I’m happy. We’ll see what happens with my future.”
Jesus has to maintain it for much, much longer to be considered the equal of Aguero in the eyes of the City faithful.
But it is a testament to Jesus’ start that it no longer seems like a disaster if Aguero left Manchester, and with big Champions League games approaching, could Jesus be the man tasked with guiding Man City to the promised land?