Gabriel Jesus was widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s most exciting wonderkids when he first arrived in Manchester, but his career hasn’t quite developed at the exponential rate which many predicted it to.
That Jesus managed to pip Sergio Aguero to a place in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI shortly after he arrived at the Etihad Stadium is indicative of quite how phenomenal he was in the early stages of his stint with City. He earned his place on merit and Guardiola’s selection preference for the Brazilian even prompted speculation over Aguero’s potential departure.
Working relentlessly to recover possession and scoring goals freely at the spearhead of the attack, Jesus was every defenders worst nightmare and a genuine fan favourite.
Jesus (valued at £72 million by Transfermarkt) managed to score seven goals and provide five assists in his first 12 appearances for the club, but the clinical form he once demonstrated has become a distant memory, provoking widespread criticism, justly or unjustly, throughout the British media.
One of Jesus’ critics is The Guardian journalist Michael Butler, as he delivered a damning verdict on his struggle in recent weeks ahead of City’s home clash with Everton.
‘City should have scored six [against Hoffenheim], and there were no worse misses than the one by Gabriel Jesus, who planted a free header against the post from four yards out, with City 1-0 down. Other than that, and being fouled quite a lot, the 21-year-old did little else, which is staggering considering he was the lone striker in a team that had 23 shots on goal.’
There is no question that Jesus is going through a rough patch, but this is a period of time which will shape him as a player and enable him to improve in the long-run.
Nobody ever made it to the top without going through at least one barren run of form, and the fact Jesus is surrounded by superstars in red-hot form is serving to intensify the scrutiny he has received in recent weeks.
Centre-forward is the position which is most reliant on confidence. Strikers are predominantly judged on how many goals they score, so a few games without one can add an extra layer of pressure which other players are unlikely to suffer from.
Add in the fact that he is being touted as a long-term successor for Aguero and it’s no surprise that Jesus is lacking the cutting edge which made him such an instant hit in the Premier League.
With Aguero now pushing towards a first-team return, Butler believes that Jesus may well have missed an opportunity to impress Guardiola.
‘Jesus’s immediate fate this Saturday at home to Everton depends on whether Agüero returns – if he doesn’t, Jesus is under pressure to perform. If Agüero is fit, it could be a long winter on the bench for the Brazilian.’
Games are set to come thick and fast over the hectic Christmas period so Jesus will certainly be involved in some capacity and, despite Butler’s damning verdict, the momentum he is craving may be just around the corner.
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