Gabriel Jesus hopes competition between himself and Sergio Aguero can drive Manchester City towards success this season.
Pep Guardiola’s side open their Premier League campaign at newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, where they will aim to bounce back from a trophyless 2016-17.
Jesus’ arrival from Palmeiras in January threatened to spark a title charge for City as the Brazil striker netted three times in his first two Premier League starts.
The 20-year-old’s instant impression left Aguero – largely unchallenged as the club’s premier forward since signing from Atletico Madrid in 2011 – on the bench, although Jesus suffering a broken metatarsal against Bournemouth in February earned him a reprieve.
The duo were paired together in attack during the closing weeks of last term and started City’s final pre-season friendly in tandem, each striker finding the net in a 3-0 win over West Ham in Helsinki.
Guardiola’s reported desire to bring Alexis Sanchez to the Etihad Stadium and his previously reserved praise of Aguero means the Argentina star’s future at City remains a matter of intrigue.
But Jesus maintains a good relationship with his team-mate and insists any friendly rivalry will benefit a quest for honours.
“Sergio Aguero is a high-quality player,” he told The Daily Mail. “I’m a big fan of his, both of his football and his humility.
“But ultimately it’s the manager’s decision. If he wants us to play together we can, as we have already shown. But if he wants me to play up front alone, it’s his decision.
“I just hope that any competition between us benefits the team, that it inspires both of us to score plenty of goals for City and leads to the club winning lots of matches and trophies.”
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 11, 2017
Jesus ended last season with seven goals in eight Premier League starts, although arguably his two most famous strikes were disallowed for offside.
He thought he had stolen the points in a debut cameo against Tottenham before briefly sending the Etihad Stadium wild in the 0-0 derby with Manchester United until the assistant’s flag was spotted.
That untimely habit of springing beyond the last defender has not gone unnoticed by Jesus’ mother Vera Lucia and regular matriarchal tips on the art of goal-poaching even inspired Jesus’ telephone goal celebration.
“I scored a goal in that game against Venezuela and it was the first time that I celebrated with a gesture for my mother. My friends had helped me to come up with it as a tribute to her,” he explained.
“She’s a fan but she knows a lot about the game. Above all, the offside rule. When I’m caught offside, she’s always sending me messages.
“I like to think I understand the offside rule well enough. Hopefully she doesn’t understand it better than me.”
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