Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is unsurprised to see new recruit Gabriel Jesus relishing the physical aspect of English football.
Brazil striker Jesus has made an instant impact at City, playing a starring role in wins at Crystal Palace and West Ham.
Jesus marked his full Premier League debut with a goal, having set up Kevin De Bruyne’s opener in a 4-0 triumph at London Stadium, but the 19-year-old’s willingness to engage with opposition defenders and an aggressive pressing game has caught the eye just as much as his dazzling skill set.
Guardiola played alongside mercurial Brazilian talents such as Romario and Rivaldo during his time at Barcelona and said the physical strength of players from world football’s most successful nation stands alongside their famously thrilling trickery.
“Always when you buy a player you are expecting the best, that they are going to adapt quick, but we never know until he starts to play,” Guardiola told reporters when discussing Jesus before Sunday’s match with Swansea City.
“We cannot forget it is just three games – two games and eight minutes – but we knew that he was physically strong and is a fighter.
“He is 19. The Brazilian guys are physical. All the people talk about his technical skills but I played with many Brazilian players in Barcelona, managed Brazilian players; the biggest quality is how strong they are.
“[City midfielders] Fernando and Fernandinho are a good example of that. Their bodies are, in that case, amazing. We didn’t have doubts about his physically approach.
“Before we signed we saw him many, many times. He is a striker for the national team for Brazil.
“To be that is not quite simple. Many, many Brazilian huge players are not playing. He is playing and that means a lot.”
Guardiola is also impressed by Jesus’ willingness to throw himself into English lessons since arriving from Palmeiras and feels this will pay dividends on the field.
“About the quality he inserted into the team, most of the time it depends on how opened minded the player is,” the former Barca and Bayern Munich boss explained.
“He arrived and after one or two days he asked a teacher to start to learn English. That counts for a lot and means a lot for him to be involved and settle.
“When the people are talking on the pitch he can understand. That is a good sign for us.”
Fifth-place City will leapfrog Arsenal and Liverpool with victory over Swansea in the scramble for Champions League qualification.
The level of competition behind runaway leaders Chelsea means Guardiola thinks his club must contemplate a failure unthinkable when he arrived with great fanfare last July.
“It’s possible we don’t qualify,” he added. “Today we are not in the Champions League places. We are going to see at the end of the season.
“Let us fight until the end. Let me try at least that – fight.”
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