Gabriel Jesus says a phone call from Pep Guardiola was the crucial factor in his decision to join Manchester City from Palmeiras.
The 19-year-old has 16 goals from 30 league appearances for Palmeiras in 2016, and his performances prompted interest from Europe’s biggest clubs during the recent transfer window.
Barcelona, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich were all linked with a move for the teenager, but it was City who secured his signature, with Jesus set to move to the Etihad Stadium in January 2017.
And the forward, who won Olympic gold for Brazil alongside Neymar at Rio 2016, says the personal touch from Guardiola made up his mind prior to signing his five-year deal.
“It was a complicated decision, but in the end my desire to learn won,” Jesus told the Guardian. “The presence of Guardiola as a manager at City and the fact that it is a great club were very important factors in my final decision.
“Guardiola’s phone call was a huge part of me deciding to go there. It made me realise that I’d love to work with him. I don’t know him personally yet but he already made me feel very safe about his project there.”
The likes of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Nolito and David Silva mean there is fierce competition for City’s attacking places, but Jesus is not fazed by the task.
“I think I will fight for a place as a winger in the team,” he said. “I actually prefer playing as a left winger rather than a striker, but I just want to be very clear that I’m willing to play in either position.
“All this change does not scare me at all. My life has always been full of challenges. Obviously this is a bigger one, but the best battles are given to the best warriors. I will listen to the manager’s opinion and his advice in order to improve and adapt as fast as I possibly can.”
Guardiola is famous for demanding a lot from his players, so the Catalan will be glad to hear his new recruit does not mind doing the hard yards, and he can also rely on another important figure in Jesus’ life to come down hard on him if he is not working for the team.
“I have always enjoyed working hard and that’s why I try to give my best tactically as well as going forward,” Jesus said.
“From an early age, I tried to take in all the instructions of all the coaches I had. I am the same today. After all, it is very important to enter the pitch knowing what I have to do to help the team.
“Yes, it’s true that my mother has a go at me when I don’t track back. We are very, very close and she demands a lot from me, which is great.”
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