Almost every manager in world football is faced with selection dilemmas and those dilemmas can separate the good from the great in the realm of management.
The manager of the Brazil national side, namely Tite, is no exception to the rule. The South American giants are renowned for consistently producing talent of the highest quality so it’s no surprise Tite faces a genuine dilemma at centre-forward which divides supporters of both Manchester City and Liverpool.
To pick or not to pick. Gabriel Jesus is the up and coming wonderkid with a poachers instinct which is near-impossible to teach, whilst Roberto Fimrino is one of few players in world football who boasts excellent credentials to operate in a false-nine role.
Liverpool fans were furious that Firmino was forced to play a bit-part role in the World Cup whilst Jesus was deployed from the outset and, with Jesus’ recent omission from the Brazil squad in mind, it’s an appropriate time to assess the careers of the two players since they arrived in the Premier League and decide who has been the best signing.
Firmino initially struggled to win over the majority of the fan base in the early stages of his career on Merseyside after arriving from Hoffenheim in 2015 in a deal worth a whopping £37 million. The price tag suggested that he would hit the ground running in the Premier League but he only managed to score 1 league goal before the turn of the year.
But the Brazilian striker would go on to score 9 goals in his final 14 appearances of the season and he slowly began to win over the hearts of the supporters. More than two years on and there’s no doubt Firmino has blossomed into a nightmare proposition for any central defender.
His quality lies within his unpredictability: he is comfortable receiving the ball with his back to goal in deep positions, playing off the shoulder and drifiting into wide positions to influence the game in various parts of the final-third. With the pace, strength and technical quality to remain so elusive in Liverpool’s attack, Firmino has established himself as the most pivotal component of Klopp’s starting XI – Salah would not be the player he is without him.
In the context of the incredibly inflated modern transfer window, the £37 million Liverpool paid for Firmino now looks like a bargain acquisition.
TT grade: A+
Gabriel Jesus is undoubtedly one of the most promising talents in world football and Manchester City’s golden boy is truly a delight to watch at times. With dazzling footwork taken straight from the futsal pitches, Jesus is a mesmerising player to watch but he still has so much to learn at this level.
Moving over from Brazil at just 19-years-of-age must have been a daunting prospect for a player who was a completely unknown entity in English football, but you’d never have known from the manner in which he started his career. Jesus went on to score 7 goals and provide 4 assists from his first 10 Premier League appearances, showcasing his poaching ability from minute go.
However, Jesus’ work-rate and finishing ability are not always supplemented with intricate link-up play in the final-third and he has the tendency to go missing at times. With further exposure to Pep Guardiola’s training methods and first-team football opportunities there is no doubt he will become a complete forward at the spearhead of City’s attack.
It will take time but there’s no doubt he has the credentials to become City’s talisman when Aguero eventually calls time on his career in Manchester.
TT Grade: A
Whilst Jesus and Firmino are both centre-forwards, it’s fair to say they play at opposite ends of the spectrum: Firmino is a playmaking centre-forward whereas Jesus is a poacher so it’s difficult to compare the two.
However, the indispensable role which Firmino plays in Liverpool’s attack gives him the edge in this battle, as it’s difficult to identify a player in world football who could seamlessly replace him in the attack.
Jesus is not quite the niche talent Firmino is, but in the years to come there’s no doubt he has the ability to become a true Man City legend.
Firmino wins this one for now and deserves his place in the current Brazil squad over Jesus but the 21-year-old could ultimately change this verdict over the course of a compelling title race between Liverpool and Man City.
Liverpool and Man City fans – who has been the better signing Firmino or Jesus?
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