Arsenal win with the help of Gabriel Jesus
The 25-year-old Brazilian forward has won more titles with Manchester City than Arsenal have since the formation of the English Premier League – four against three. However, Gabriel is not a full-fledged successor to Sergio Agüero, which was the fate he was expected to achieve a few years ago. Jesus has a solid run at City, scoring 95 goals and 46 assists in 233 games, but his goalscoring record has seen a steady decline in each of the past three seasons: 23 goals in the 2019/20 campaign, 14 in 2020/21, 13 goals in 2021/22 this season.
Can we say that Jesus has exhausted himself in Josep Guardiola’s team? That’s probably not too far from the truth. Last season, Gabi had no nominal competition at centre-forward, but he did not always play, and scored far less frequently than expected from the top club’s attacking tip. As a result, Manchester City have gone for Erling Holland, who is set to become the first star of the attacking line, and Argentine forward Julian Alvarez will also arrive at the Etihad. With such a personnel configuration, Jesus is a third superfluous, so saying goodbye to him makes perfect sense from a sporting point of view.
Price of the issue – £45m
In financial terms, Manchester City were not left short either. “Arsenal paid £45 million (almost €53 million), with Borussia Dortmund paying €60 million for the transfer of Erling Holand. Of course, the Norwegian’s arrival also entailed huge bonuses for his agents and father, but Gaby Jesus still helped repay some of the expenses, and also freed up funds on the payroll to keep the newcomers.
Interestingly, Manchester City did not obstruct the transfer of Jesus to another Premier League club, although one could have waited for options in other championships. Even Real Madrid had their sights on Gabriel, but Madrid have failed to make room in the squad for a player without an EU passport because the issue of Vinicius obtaining Spanish citizenship has been delayed due to the fault of the Spanish authorities.
But after the confirmed transfer to Arsenal, we can start reading between the lines. Firstly, City probably do not regard the Canaries as a direct competitor. And who would argue with that? Secondly, Jesus himself is recognised by the English champions as less promising and effective than the likes of Holland and Alvarez who have come in to fill his position. Manchester City appear to have done the math and concluded that Gabi Jesus’ move to the fifth team in the AFL would not change the Championship landscape for the Citizens to the disadvantage. Perhaps it does.
Arsenal were in dire need of a forward
On the Arsenal side, inviting Jesus also looks understandable: The Londoners let Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette go as free agents and the attacking line had to be reassembled. “The Canaries have made a bid for Gabriel Jesus and renewed Eddie Nketia’s contract, resolving a pressing issue with two strokes of the pen.
At least, they solved it formally. Nketiah was predicted to have a great career in his youth, but by the age of 23, Edward had only nine Premier League goals. Jesus is a four-time England champion who has adapted to the Championship and life in the Foggy Albion, but in Josep Guardiola’s team he has never grown out of his ‘son of the regiment’ trousers, while Arteta should make him an attacking leader overnight.
It wasn’t a deal at the drop of a hat, the Canaries have been in close contact with Jesus’ agent Marcello Pettinati for almost six months, who helped negotiate the clubs and secured Gabi’s move from Manchester City to London. And he has hardly priced his services cheaply. All agent-dominated transfers assume that the buyer is prepared to shell out more than the seller’s official asking price. However, everyone at Arsenal is happy, with technical director Edu dismissing any doubts:
We are very happy to have secured the transfer of Gabriel. Everyone who understands football knows the qualities of Gabi Jesus. He is a player we have admired for a long time. He is 25 years old and has been playing regularly for the Brazilian national team, where he also shows his high level. We are looking forward to him joining his new teammates ahead of the new season. We all welcome Gabriel to Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta is also excited:
I am very excited. The club has done a great job to bring in a player of this calibre. I personally know Gabriel very well and we all know him well from the time he spent in the Premier League and was really successful. We’ve wanted to sign a striker for a long time and now Arsenal get the player we all wanted to see here. So I am very happy.
An Arsenal-style transfer or a rookie who will change the Canaries’ fortunes?
Perhaps Arsenal know the exact recipe for the “preparation” of Gabi Jesus, with whom Mikel Arteta knows from their work together at Manchester City. Well, or maybe Arsenal employ overly impressionable and naive people. I’m trying to explain the euphoria in the Canaries after the signing of Jesus. It feels like Lewandowski or Benzema has arrived in London, rather than a guy who has been written off by the English champions.
The fact remains that Arsenal will be “wearing” the player for a top club, where Josep Guardiola has tried to squeeze all the juice out of Gabriel. Playing surrounded by the strongest partners within a perfectly functioning system, the Brazilian scored 14 Premier League goals in his best season. Obviously, Jesus has not reached his full potential at City. What are the prerequisites for us to believe Arsenal are a better place to step up to the next level?
Well, except the lower level of internal competition in the team, in London Gabi should become an iron core player. Perhaps Arteta’s confidence will help him. But it can also be relaxing, because at City Jesus is used to fighting for playing time and trophies (he won 11 cups in five years), while with Arsenal he will be playing in the Europa League and fighting for a place in the top four.
For a trophy-fed footballer, downgrading goals could also be a problem. Gabi has the class and skill to play for the best clubs in the APL, but there are also constraints. For Arsenal, it’s an expensive and rather risky transfer, because if a bid for Jesus doesn’t work, the Canaries will once again be left on the sidelines, especially as their plan B in attack is Nketya. Do you think Gaby Jesus will become an Arsenal star or will he not reach the expected heights?