Ever since Gabriel Jesus played his final game for Palmeiras in mid-December, his arrival has been eagerly anticipated by City supporters and fans around the world. The 19-year-old wonderkid, who has been dubbed the next Ronaldo, so far has not failed to live up to those expectations – however, we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves.
Jesus’ arrival is up there with that of Sergio Aguero’s in 2011. It almost feels like the beginning of a new era, particularly in Pep at the reins. He made his debut in the league as a late substitute against Spurs and looked to be a quality player. Just moments after replacing Raheem Sterling, he combined with Aguero to fizz a ball across the box, inches away from Leroy Sane.
Immediately after this, he was close to bagging his first goal for the club with a header not too far off target. Eventually, both fans and Jesus himself thought he had scored his first goal in a sky-blue shirt – only for it to be ruled offside. After the-goal-that-wasn’t, he continued to look bright leaving City fans licking their lips at the final whistle, excited at what was to come.
Next up was Palace in the cup, when he received his first start for City. Once again he impressed, and this time showed another side to his game: work-rate. Similar to another South American who was once at the club, Jesus’ showed his willingness to press defences, win the ball back and almost run himself into the ground. His performance was reminiscent of Carlos Tevez during his tenure at the club. He also picked up his first assist, playing a great ball through to Sterling.
His latest outing came against West Ham, where he got his first league start. He impressed yet again with another assist on top of his first goal. His link-up play with Sterling, Sane and De Bruyne was incredible, and at times it seemed they were impossible to stop. His work-rate was again a key factor on display in City’s win, taking the pressure off Yaya Toure who played on his own in the middle of the park. Ultimately he picked up the man-of-the-match award too, capping off an incredible performance.
Don’t get carried away
Although Jesus has been close to world-class in his opening three games, considering the circumstances City fans should hold back for just a second. It’s sometimes easy to forget a player’s age, as we have seen with Raheem Sterling when he moved from Liverpool.
Following a breakout season for Liverpool, where he was their go-to man following Suarez’ departure and Sturridge’s recurring injury problems, he joined City with huge expectations. In his first couple of games for City, it appeared he was living up to the hype however he hit a bad run of form which lasted through to the Euros and led to him becoming a scapegoat by our great media.
It’s more than possible that the same can happen with the 19-year-old Brazilian who is carrying the weight of his nation on his shoulders. Sometimes the pressure can get to these teens, and their form can drop. One bad game and the media are on top of them.
A quick summary: Jesus’ potential has no limit, and with the right coaching, mentality and bits of luck in between, only he knows where he can end up. But when he inevitably endures a poor run of form it’s important to remember that he’s only 19 and that maybe we should calm our expectations both for his good and ours.
There’s a never-ending list of ‘what if’ stories and many involve those who have worn the sky-blue shirt: Michael Johnson, Micah Richards, Gai Assulin and most recently Marcos Lopes have all been touted for great success, but for one reason or another they haven’t lived up to their potential.