What is going wrong for Gabriel Jesus at Manchester City?
Pep Guardiola joined Manchester City in 2016 and among a bunch of players that the club signed that summer, there was a 19-year-old kid from Brazil called Gabriel Jesus. City signed Jesus after agreeing on a deal worth £27million with his parent club, Palmeiras. But it wasn’t a signing that immediately sent shockwaves around Europe. The boy was still an unknown entity in England and there were no expectations of him.
But when Jesus finally joined City in January 2017, he turned out to be a complete revelation. Sergio Aguero was struggling with injuries, providing Jesus with the perfect stage to announce himself in England. Young players who come from abroad usually take some time to settle in and find their feet but this was no normal kid. He started his City career like a house on fire, scoring 7 goals in 8 starts in the league.
The expectations were much higher in the 2017/18 season and he fulfilled most of those. The Pep roulette was in full force as Aguero and Jesus were rotated week in week out. Unfortunately for the youngster, he suffered a long-term injury on New Year’s Eve and was ruled out for next three months.
He returned from the injury in March and since then, he has not looked the same. He found the back of the net against the likes of West Ham United and Swansea City but his finishing lacked conviction. His poor form continued at the World Cup as well. In Russia, he was in charge of leading the Brazilian line but Jesus failed miserably. He couldn’t get a single goal while the likes of Roberto Firmino, Neymar and Philippe Coutinho found the back of the net with ease.
The same story has continued this season as well. In the first game against Arsenal at the Emirates, he came on as a substitute for the last 10 minutes when the game was already over. Then Pep tried a 3-5-2 formation with both Jesus and Aguero at the top. The partnership blossomed for an hour or so as both the South Americans fed off each other’s smart runs. Jesus found the net and Aguero scored a hattrick.
However, against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux Stadium, Jesus was dropped by Pep as City drew 1-1. And in the recent victory over Newcastle United, he was lacklustre and got subbed off before the hour mark.
There seems to be some confidence issue with the 21-year-old. The injury certainly didn’t help but a series of poor performances have left him in tatters. Guardiola clearly doesn’t trust him enough to let him lead the line for the Cityzens.
But once the League Cup and Champions League commence, the manager must rotate the squad. A full 90 minutes on the pitch, coupled with a brace in a game, should be enough for Jesus to regain his confidence. At 21, Jesus must continue to develop and mature under Pep Guardiola’s leadership.