What can Manchester City's newest signing Gabriel Jesus bring to Pep Guardiola's side?
Pep Guardiola’s rebuilding project at Manchester City is in full swing. The signings of Ilkay Gundogan, Nolito and Leroy Sane are a true statement of intent, not only for their instant impact but also for the future of the squad.
The Citizens squad has plenty of experience, and have often been criticised for having an aging squad, so signing young players seems to be the best approach for the new City manager.
The most recent of those signings is Gabriel Jesus. The 19-year-old just completed a move to the Etihad for a fee of around £27 million from Palmeiras and could prove one of the key signings of the Guardiola era.
The Brazilian has already gained plaudits from legendary compatriot Ronaldo, who has touted him for future success with the national team and labelled him as one of two great talents coming out of Brazil.
Gabriel played 19 games in all competitions for his club side last season, netting 14 times in the process. A goal every 112 minutes would be an unbelievably impressive stat for any striker, but the versatile forward featured as much out wide as he did as a centre forward.
His eye for goal is doubtlessly an important asset, but his explosive pace and fleet-footed technique will make him a handful for defenders to deal with. The forward drew 3.6 fouls per game in the league, proving that his incredibly dribbling technique proved frustrating for opposing defenders.
An understated yet unequivocally essential element of a forward’s play in the modern game is their defensive contribution. A striker can put pressure on opposing defenders and midfielders in possession, win the ball high up the field and instigate a rapid counterattack, something Gabriel’s pace will play into nicely.
The youngster successfully tackled more than twice a game on average, breaking up the flow of the opposition’s game and reducing the pressure on his team.
As with any young player, there are parts of his game that need refining. Despite a superb defensive work rate, Gabriel committed nearly three fouls per game in the Brasileirão. That lack of refinement could put City in dangerous positions from set pieces.
In attacking situations, the Brazil under-23 international miss-controlled the ball 4.1 times and was dispossessed twice per game. That kind of carelessness on the ball could stifle attacks and prevent City from pushing on in what will surely be the closest Premier League season yet. Those figures could amass to six failed attacks per game – a shockingly wasteful stat.
While Gabriel Jesus is doubtless a fantastically talented player, there are several elements of his game that the young Brazilian needs to develop. If he carries his form over from his Palmeiras days, however, he will be a mainstay in the Manchester City line up for years to come.
The Etihad faithful should not expect the complete package immediately, but a little patience will pay off, and Gabriel Jesus could be one of the finest players in world football in a couple of years.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Mauro Horita