The Brazilian Jesus was never a scorer at Manchester City
Jesus failed to live up to his status as Agüero’s heir
Gabriel Jesus is close to Arsenal. But can the Brazilian striker resurrect Mikel Arteta’s team?
In his five and a half seasons at Manchester City, he has shown enough to suggest that he will bring something special to the Canaries’ game.
The general argument of his supporters is that he would have flourished at Manchester City if only Pep Guardiola had not been the kind of manager who likes to rotate his team every week. More playing time would mean more goals.
Arsenal are willing to shell out £50 million for the striker, but can the Brazilian provide the power that Mikel Arteta so desperately needs?
There remain serious doubts about Jesus’ ability to score often, his best record in the Premier League is just 14 goals, and if he played better there would be no need to buy Erling Hollande.
The reality is that Jesus never became the force he was expected to be. He didn’t score 30 goals a season and never really proved himself as Sergio Agüero’s successor. Will he really look better at the Emirates?
Arsenal need another forward
Arsenal’s lack of firepower ultimately led to the Canaries’ failure to qualify for the Champions League last season. Bucayo Saka was the top scorer with 12 goals in all competitions, while center forward Eddie Nketiah scored just 10.
After the departures of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, there was a need to spend heavily on a new striker, and Arsenal chose Jesus.
As Sportsmail reported on Monday, the player’s agents went to London to seal the deal, and Arsenal will spend another huge chunk of their budget days after buying Fabio Vieira from Porto for £34 million.
Doubts remain – is it enough? Given that Arteta will have to play in both the Europa League and domestic competition next season, he could use a third option at the edge of the attack, in addition to Jesus and Nketea.
This player should probably also offer him other qualities that Jesús does not possess: mastery in the air, the ability to cling to balls when serving, the physical strength to hold the ball. Otherwise, Arsenal won’t be able to move forward. Last season, Arteta’s men scored just 61 goals in the Premier League, an improvement over the previous two seasons, but not enough when compared to City’s 99 goals, Liverpool’s 94, Chelsea’s 76 and even Tottenham’s 69, who beat them to fourth place.
Jesus was very promising, but did not realize his talent during his six years at City
Last season recorded Arsenal’s undeniable progress, Arteta built his team around an exciting young core and his ideas were often implemented, but the Canaries are still a long way from contending for titles.
Jesus will not be able to bridge that gap on his own. Tellingly, since Jesus joined City, only Christian Benteke has the worst goal difference between actual goals scored and expected goals in the Premier League.
His realization rates were a paltry 21.74 and 29.41 in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, respectively, and his minutes-per-goal figures have deteriorated dramatically over the past two seasons.
After scoring seven times in 10 games since arriving in Manchester in January 2017, which sparked optimism that he would be the next Brazilian wonderboy, Jesus has scored 13, 7, 14, 9 and 8 Premier League goals in the past few seasons. That’s hardly mind-boggling.
He scored 13 goals in all competitions last season, behind City’s top scorers Riyad Marez, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden.
All this indicates that Jesus can’t offer the killer instinct in front of goal that Arsenal so badly needs, and let’s not forget that he won’t get the goal-scoring conveyor belt that he had at City.
Perhaps more playing time under Arteta would help. Jesus was rarely used in the Champions League last season, appearing on the field in only three of City’s nine games, but he took the field in 21 of the 34 Premier League games in which he was available, and in seven more he came on as a substitute.
He scored far more often when he started in the starting lineup than when he came on as a substitute – 152 minutes per goal versus 248 – so perhaps Arteta can bring out his best qualities by putting the Brazilian in the starting lineup every week.
We don’t yet know how Jesus will react to being the main striker at a top club and taking on the responsibility of tackling. City have always had alternatives, the team didn’t depend on him.
It is also clear that Jesus knows how to be in a good position in front of goal, even if he does not always get his chance, and Guardiola has always admired his willingness to press the opponent with high intensity.
Arsenal would not have spent that £50 million without carefully examining Jesus and comparing his record with other available strikers.
Arteta himself, of course, is well aware of what Jesus can bring to the game, as he worked with him at Manchester City. But there remain many doubts and a sense of unrealized potential regarding the 25-year-old player.