Gabriel Jesus’ seamless adaptation to life in the Premier League puts Pep Guardiola in mind of Lionel Messi but the Manchester City manager suggested he will need further attacking reinforcements to address his team’s shortcoming in front of goal.
Brazil striker Jesus has four goals in as many top-flight starts for City – a streak punctuated by more than two months on the sidelines with a broken metatarsal suffered at Bournemouth in February.
Sergio Aguero’s absence with a groin problem means the 20-year-old is expected to lead the line when Crystal Palace visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday and Guardiola is impressed by how quickly he has settled.
“Before we got him we expected a lot of things but not that impact as soon as possible,” the former Barcelona boss said. “He will be the future striker of the club for the next years.”
Asked for an example of players who had adapted so well to a new challenge, Guardiola responded: “There are many, especially the good ones. Messi, for example – he was 18 or 19 years old and scored 40 league goals in a year.
“The big players, the top players are top players. Sometimes we talk about needing more time and you have to give that time.
“Some players came here to the Premier League, in the first year and the second season it was difficult and then… wow, explosion.
“But the other ones, if mentally they are strong, if they are positive, they are skilled – they arrive and, wow, it is done.”
City completed the deal for Jesus with Palmeiras last year, with the forward completing the Campeonato Brasileiro season and winning the league title before arriving in Manchester in January.
Guardiola accepts that if City had waited to get the deal done, their man might have headed to one of Europe’s heavyweight clubs.
“When we decided to buy Gabriel, he had a lot, a lot of ‘girlfriends’ – a lot of teams to go to,” he explained.
“And he decided to come here. We were so pleased. I am very pleased that Gabriel wanted to take that step.
“Maybe if he had waited one more year, or half a year in Brazil, maybe the big clubs in Europe, the big clubs in terms of playing in the Champions League every year, with a long history [would sign him].
“And he decided to come with us. When that happens, all we can do is help him. I love that.”
Aguero is responsible for 31 of City’s goals this season, with wingers Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane producing the next best return on nine apiece.
Guardiola maintained he would persist with his intricate passing style next season, as City find themselves still battling to secure a top-four spot, and insisted a sharper edge in front of goal is needed – with the recourse to the transfer market seeming likely.
“The reason why at home we didn’t win?” said Guardiola, when addressing a record of eight wins, seven draws and a defeat to Chelsea in the league. “Lack of goals. As simple as that.
“In football, the most difficult thing by far is to put the ball in the net, score goals. In golf the most difficult thing is putting; in basketball the most difficult is when you shoot.
“When you want a guy who is fast, you have to buy a player who is fast. Goals, you have to buy. It is what it is.”
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