Gabriel Jesus Tipped For a Move to Arsenal this summer by United Legend Rio Ferdinand.
The Gunners unsuccessfully tried to sign Alexander Isak and Dusan Vlahovic in the winter transfer window. However, reputed journalist Fabrizio Romano insists that the Gunners will move for a “top striker” in the summer.
“If I was Arsenal, I would go and buy Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City,”
Jesus joined the Citizens from Brazilian side Palmeiras in 2016. The 24-year-old has since racked up 88 goals and 38 assists in 222 appearances under Pep Guadiola.
Jesus has a contract until 2023 with Manchester City. He has previously expressed his admiration for Arsenal boss Arteta, who was Guardiola’s assistant until 2019:
“He’s helped a lot of players. When I want to do finishing after training, I tell him and he comes and helps me. So he is really fantastic for us. All the players know that — everyone knows that in the club. He is a fantastic guy and fantastic manager.”
Let us analyse whether the Brazilian would be a good signing for Mikel Arteta’s side:
Involvement at Manchester City:
Since his signing, Jesus has never established himself as a starter under Guardiola. The 24-year-old was initially behind Kun Aguero in the pecking order. Guardiola’s preference for a false-nine set-up also played a part in the game-time Jesus received. This season, Jesus has made 27 appearances in all competitions. He has 6 goals and 8 assists against his name.
Gabriel Jesus is not a perfect centre-forward profile. This season, the Brazilian has started 11 games from the right flank, and only four centrally.
Jesus has an excellent sense of positioning and off-the ball movement. He is not afraid to take shots, and is effective at bringing his teammates into play too. However, two factors affect his game in a central role:
- Lack of physicality: Jesus does not have the ability to hold off defenders unlike Aguero.
- Finishing: Jesus has never been a great finisher. Since his signing, the Brazilian has overperformed his xG in only one season. Jesus is a prolific goal-scorer and averages 0.53 goals every 90 minutes since 2016. However, he has the tendency to miss chances or take sub-par shots.
The 24-year-old took stock of this himself. In December 2019, Jesus said,
“Last month I was no good and I wasn’t happy. I played eight or nine games and I didn’t score and I missed chances so I’m not happy with that”
Guardiola has repurposed Jesus into an effective winger. The former Barcelona boss asks his wingers to maintain width, allowing his full-backs to invert. For this purpose, Jesus, a right-footed player, has largely been used down the right-flank. The former Palmeiras man can be equally deadly on the left flank too. In such a role, Jesus would be able to cut in and attack the goal more directly, similar to what Arteta expects of Martinelli.
Jesus himself feels he is better equipped to play on the flanks. As the 24-year-old explained to ESPN,
“If you take my beginning as professional at Palmeiras, I played left-wing. At the academy too, national team, the Olympics. I played as a forward and moved to the front,”
“Then I was second striker [at Palmeiras]. Then I became a centre-forward. In the national team as well, things happened. That’s how I came here [City]. In my mind, I was always more of a winger than a forward.”
“I think that with my qualities, I help more from the wing than from the centre. I’ve been playing like this for the national team since the Copa America.”
“It’s nothing new for me, nor for many people in Brazil. But here [in England], yes. Maybe they don’t follow [Brazil National team] so much.”
Fit Under Arteta:
Whether Jesus would be a good signing for Mikel Arteta boils down to one question, “How would Arteta plan to use him?”
Arteta could essentially deploy the Brazilian in two positions: centre-forward or left-wing.
If Arsenal are hunting for an exact like-for-like replacement for Lacazette, Gabriel Jesus may not be the answer. Jesus would be a more direct threat than the Frenchman, but falls short in terms of creativity and hold-up play. For the quoted price range, Arsenal have equally feasible options who are better equipped to play in the central role.
However, if Arteta views Jesus as a wide player, it opens up several possibilities for the Gunners. Bukayo Saka on the right flank remains untouchable, but Jesus could easily stake a claim as starter on the left-flank. Jesus would add some much-needed depth to the Arsenal front-line, alongside Pepe, Martinelli and Saka. This would also allow Arteta to use Smith-Rowe in the deeper areas of the field more often.
Tierney as full-back would further allow the Brazilian to access the box easily. Jesus provides more directness than any of Arteta’s current options. Combined with the signing of another centre-forward, Jesus could be the missing piece in Arteta’s puzzle.
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Arsenal are a team that has been creating a high-volume of chances recently. The Gunners have the third most shots taken per game, behind only Liverpool and Manchester City. The induction of Jesus would allow the Gunners to translate several dangerous spells of possession into high quality chances. A transfer would also take off the goal-scoring burden from the young shoulders of Saka and Smith-Rowe.
Gabriel Jesus is a fantastic player and an excellent option for Arsenal right now. This is reinforced by his experience in the Premier League and under Arteta. However, the Gunners would need to keep two things in mind if they want to sign the former Palmeiras forward:
- Jesus can play as a centre-forward, but is NOT a long-term solution for that position. Arsenal could look to experiment with a false-nine option as well.
- If Arsenal are to sign Jesus, it would naturally have to be complimented with the arrival of another forward too. With Nketiah and Lacazette set to leave, Arteta could look to bring in an additional player for the position too. However, this does not have to be a long-term signing. Florian Balgoun or Tyreece John-Jules could return to the Emirates in the near future. Arsenal need an experienced short-term signing, to smoothen the transition between the current strikers and the next gen. An economical stop-gap signing could allow the Gunners to reinforce other areas of their squad like the mid-field and right-back positions.
Should Arsenal sign Gabriel Jesus? What would his best position be for the Gunners? Who else could Edu look to sign? Let us know in the comments.