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In Focus: Gunners believe in Jesus to take them to the next level
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Cian Cheesbrough
LiveScore
Striker Gabriel Jesus is poised for a fresh start at Arsenal
Striker Gabriel Jesus is poised for a fresh start at Arsenal

Arsenal are reportedly on the verge of solving their striker problem with the £45million signing of Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus.

The Brazilian, 25, will look to breathe new life into his Premier League career after struggling to nail down a regular starting spot under Pep Guardiola.

We look at what the Gunners will be getting with their marquee signing.

Wanted man

Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the Champions League last season looked to have dealt a hammer blow to their transfer plans.

Pipped to a top-four finish by London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham, the Gunners were expected to find themselves at a disadvantage when attempting to attract the biggest names to the Emirates.

But with both the Blues and Spurs reported to have held an interest in Jesus, his capture represents something of a coup by Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

The striker’s relationship with the former City assistant looks to have played a pivotal role, alongside the influence of technical director and Brazilian compatriot Edu.

Gabriel Jesus' relationship with Mikel Arteta looks to have convinced the Brazilian to join Arsenal
Gabriel Jesus' relationship with Mikel Arteta looks to have convinced the Brazilian to join Arsenal

The missing piece

While their late collapse last season was undoubtedly a disappointment, there were plenty of positives to take from Arsenal’s campaign overall.

Following consecutive eighth-place finishes in the two previous seasons, fans were understandably fearing the worst when they kicked off 2021-22 with three straight defeats.

But over time, Arteta's young side began to gel and missing out on the top four by just two points can only be seen as progress.

That rings even more true when you consider their lack of an out-and-out goalscorer for much of the season.

Former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left the club in January following a return of just four goals in 14 Premier League outings and questions remained over Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah’s suitability to take on that mantle.

Only Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe managed more than 10 top-flight goals for the North Londoners last term, with the closest challenger behind that pair being midfielder Martin Odegaard on seven strikes.

That made signing a prolific striker a priority this summer and with Jesus' arrival, they will believe another top-four challenge is on the cards.

Untapped potential

Gabriel Jesus was often deployed as a wide player under Pep Guardiola last season
Gabriel Jesus was often deployed as a wide player under Pep Guardiola last season

Central striker is a role that Jesus has generally been starved of since joining City from Palmeiras for £27m in 2015 and one he will be determined to prove he is worthy of occupying at the Emirates.

Despite a fast start to Premier League life when he managed seven goals in his first 10 outings, the Sao Paulo native spent much of his early years at the Etihad playing second fiddle to Sergio Aguero.

But even as the legendary Argentine began to struggle with injuries before his departure last summer, Jesus remained unfavoured by Guardiola and was often used in a wide role rather than as the Citizens' main striker.

Jesus’ mentor Ze Roberto thinks that lack of regular action is what has stunted the forward’s progress at the Etihad.

The former Brazil international told Sky Sports: "The mentality Pep Guardiola has is to rotate his whole team and give opportunities to every player, but I believe the best version of Gabriel Jesus is when he is motivated and playing consistently.

"When a player like Gabriel is in the team then out of it, it is very difficult for him to have stability and find confidence. I think it is always going to be difficult for that to change at Manchester City."

Headline act

Gabriel Jesus has proven goalscoring pedigree at Premier League level
Gabriel Jesus has proven goalscoring pedigree at Premier League level

All things considered, Jesus' Premier League goal record of 58 strikes in 159 outings — one every 160 minutes — will be enough to get Gunners fans excited.

And despite starting only 21 of City’s 38 Premier League games last term, a return of 16 direct goal involvements is just one shy of Lacazette and Nketiah’s 2021-22 outlay combined.

That all eight of those top-flight strikes came in matches where he started lends weight to the idea he is ready to be a regular in a Premier League XI.

Given Arsenal are well stocked in wide areas, it seems likely Jesus will get the opportunity that he has craved to impress through the middle.

High pressure

With the Gunners desperate for a No9 and Jesus equally as keen to prove himself in England, there is plenty of pressure on this move to succeed.

During Arteta’s tenure at the club, only the £50m signing of Ben White tops the reported £45m outlay Arsenal are set to fork out for the Brazilian.

For a player who has only twice managed to hit 10 league goals in six seasons, placing all their hopes on Jesus is not without its risk.

But if he succeeds at the Emirates, it could easily turn out to be the defining signing of Arteta's tenure.

Tags

ArsenalGabriel JesusPremier LeagueManchester City
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