Jesus looking like Man City's salvation
Brazilian wonderkid is a better fit for Guardiola than Aguero
Sitting high up in the London Stadium, Antonio Conte watched Manchester City demolish West Ham 4-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time).
At one point, the Chelsea manager appeared to be yawning. He should've been praying.
A quiet word of thanks was probably in order, expressing gratitude that Gabriel Jesus didn't join City at the start of the season.
This boy isn't another Brazilian with a bit of potential and a smattering of cool samba moves.
He's a fireball of attacking mischief wrapped in a teenager's body. He's 19 going on a galactico. He's already there.
Jesus isn't the player that just City were waiting for.
He's the player that the English Premier League was waiting for, a spark to reignite a plodding, pedestrian campaign.
As the one-horse race threatened to bore an increasingly distracted global audience to death, Jesus rose in London to deliver a capital performance and resurrect a tedious season.
Of course, hype is easy and Jesus isn't the first 19-year-old to manage a goal and an assist in only his third appearance, particularly when facing cardboard cutouts masquerading as elite athletes.
The Hammers were not credible opponents. They played with all the grace of giraffe calves skittering across an ice rink.
Nevertheless, the manner of Jesus' commanding display and his extraordinary confidence are reasons for real optimism.
Most importantly, he made other teammates play better.
He attacks the goal, he wants to score. It’s like a water melon. You have to open it and see. The prospect was good, a young player with good talent.Pep Guardiola on Gabriel Jesus
Alongside Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, the young Brazilian completed a youthful, attacking triumvirate that promises to be the most captivating in English football.
That's not hyperbole, but simple mathematics. Sane is 21. Sterling is still only 22.
The polarising Englishman seems to have been around for years and his form has mirrored that of his team, often below-par and underwhelming.
But the new kids on the block battered the bewildered Hammers. Sane and Sterling peeled away at every opportunity, knowing that Jesus would be sniffing out space around them.
Former England striker Ian Wright, sitting in a commentary box, had to stop himself from salivating, noting that Jesus has reached a level at 19 that Wright didn't reach until he peaked at 28.
City have signed a Brazilian title winner and a regular goal-scoring member of the Selecao.
His birth certificate is of no concern to Pep Guardiola.
If anything, the bench-warming duties could be handed to Sergio Aguero, should he stay at City beyond this season, which looks increasingly unlikely.
A cruel cameraman cut to the Argentinian within seconds of Jesus scoring and Aguero's lack of enthusiasm for the goal seemed fitting.
Despite his world-class credentials, the 28-year-old isn't really the kind of centre forward that Guardiola favours.
If Aguero isn't scoring, he isn't really contributing to the team ethic and it's perhaps no coincidence that niggling injuries and a dodgy temperament have affected the striker's performances this season.
When he has featured, Aguero has found himself isolated, unable to drop back and link play.
A low centre of gravity and a muscular stockiness allow Jesus to slip defenders and bring overlapping teammates such as Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva into the game against West Ham.
His speed, vision and passing range do the rest.
West Ham literally didn't see him coming.
Jesus' weighted pass to de Bruyne for City's opener demonstrated the kind of composure found among forwards with another decade on the clock.
It was a teasing glimpse of greater things to come.
The Brazilian's arrival has come too late to save City's title challenge, but he has at least woken up the race for the top four.
City are a pleasure to watch once more, unless your name happens to be Aguero.