Ronaldo. Ronaldinho. Rivaldo. Kaka. Carlos. The list goes on. The Brazilians of yesteryear dominated world football for decades and in fact the history books as being the holders of five world cup triumphs and eight Copa America titles as well as being ingrained in history as a country rich in world-class country and flair. Brazil have always been synonymous with having players with great flair, skill and creativity who can light up the world stage and become the best in the world in their position. In recent years however, the quality of player from Brazil has dramatically dropped as shown by their recent showing in international tournaments. It seems in the current footballing climate for every one Neymar, there are a hundred Freds. There have been many failed Brazilian strikers who can adequately replace Ronaldo to spearhead the attack such as Jo, Fred, Pato and Adriano to name a few. However, none have looked more the part than Manchester City’s new golden boy, Gabriel Jesus.
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city on the 3rd of April 1997, Gabriel Jesus grew up in the Jardim Peri where he, like a lot of Brazilian stars, started his footballing journey by playing a mixture of Futsal and street football in and around Sao Paulo. He played for a number of amateur clubs with his last amateur being his most prominent as he played for Associação Atlética Anhanguera between 2010 to 2012, before joining the club which drove him to the limelight in his native country, Palmeiras. Signed a youth contract with the Sao Paulo based club on the 1st of July 2013 and finished his first season at the club as their top goal scorer in the youth system, with 54 goals in 48 games. At the end of the 13/14 Brazilian Serie A season after lengthy discussions, he signed his first ever professional contract with the club on a three-year deal, which had the option of a further two. Jesus made his senior debut in March 2015 as a substitute against Bragatino and made his first career start just over a month later against Sampaio Corrêa Futebol Clube. He ended the 14-15 season with eight substitute appearances yielding no goals and assists. He made his first start in the Serie A on the first day of the 15-16 season and scored his first professional goal in the Brazilian cup, scoring the only goal in the two-legged tie. He followed this up with two strikes against Cruzeiro in the cup again to send Palmeiras into the quarter finals and also scored his first league goals as he finished the season with four goals in 20 appearances and won the Brazilian cup as well as winning the best newcomer award for 2015. 2016 however, was Gabriel Jesus’ breakout year and he secured a big money move to Manchester City in August for a reported fee of £27m plus performance related add-ons, with him to link up with the squad in January, following the conclusion of the Brazilian top flight season. He scored 12 goals as he led Palmerias to their first title since 1994 and carried this on to the Olympics, as Jesus won Olympic gold. He linked up with the City squad in January and made an instant impact as he got 3 goals and 2 assists in 5 games, including a disallowed goal on his debut cameo against Tottenham Hotspur. He seemed to take to the Premier League like it was nothing, although his storm was abruptly cut short when he broke his foot against Swansea and is expected to be out for the rest of the season, which is a great shame.
Often compared to the upper echelon of great Brazilian forwards like Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Pele, he possesses great ability both physically and technically to reach the dizzy heights of these players and maybe even surpass them. Renown for his dribbling and intelligent movement as well as his ice-cold finish, he has already shown what an eccentric player he is in the short time he’s been on the pitch in England. Initially bursting onto the scene as left winger cutting onto his right foot to devastating effect, he was shifted into the number nine role and although understandable took some time to adjust, he has acclimatized very well. In the Premier League, he’s averaged two shots and one key pass a game with a 50% shooting accuracy and 0.75 goals a game, which just highlights his excellent work in contributing goals to the team as he has been involved in four goals in four games. (three goals and one assist.) Although not especially tall at 5’9, his low centre of gravity and hos stocky frame makes him quick and powerful, a combination to make any opposing defenders tremble. The former Palmeiras man is also very astute with his passing, registering an average of 20.75 passes a game and having created one ‘big chance’ in the Premier League. Going forward Gabriel is an extremely potent force as he has averaged two shots per game and has posted an impressive 81.9% passing success rate. Jesus however does have some a few weaknesses in his game, which is more than expected for a 19-year-old. His tactical awareness is something which needs working on although he is blessed with incredible pace, he seems to struggle to utilize and effectively use it as his raw uncontrolled pace is often his pitfall. Another weakness which is a major problem and will likely land him in hot water for both Manchester City and Brazil is his discipline, or lack of it. The Brazilian has received 15 yellow cards and one red card in his short professional career, as he is a hot-headed individual who is prone to throwing himself about recklessly and in a league as volatile and aggressive as the Premier League, it can prove to be a major hindrance in succeeding.Gabriel Jesus is very special in the sense that he is just as fast running with the ball as without it, showcasing how dangerous he is. His strengths lie with his finishing and key passes, although his defensive contribution is very strong too considering he is normally deployed as the furthest man forward, which means him an ideal Pep Guardiola player, a versatile and hard-working player who is multi-dimensional.
Gabriel Jesus is one of the world’s finest young talents who already has a firm starting birth for his native Brazil and with a club as ambitious and a manager and ingenious and loving of creative forwards, Gabriel Jesus has the talent, backing and environment to succeed and become one of the world’s best.