Football

Pep surprised at Jesus' impact

Guardiola surprised by Jesus' red-hot start to his City career

Not many strikers in the world can keep Sergio Aguero on the bench.

But a 19-year-old Brazilian did just that, denying the 28-year-old Argentinian a place in Manchester City's starting 11.

Gabriel Jesus has scored three goals in his first two starts in the Premier League and manager Pep Guardiola admitted that even he is surprised by the stunning start the youngster has made to his career in English football.

Jesus received a standing ovation at the Etihad Stadium after he netted twice, including a 92nd-minute winner, to inspire City to a 2-1 victory over Swansea City on Sunday.

After arriving in England at the start of last month, Jesus is emerging as one of the most exciting prospects to land in the English top flight for some time.

"Yes, I'm surprised," said Guardiola, whose side climbed to third place in the table, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.

"When he came here after he finished the season and won the (Brazilian) championship with Palmeiras, we spoke.

"The last two or three years, he never had a break because Brazil played a lot of games.

"I said, 'Take your time, come back when you feel you're ready'.

"But he's 19 years old, Brazilian guys are physically strong and he needed only a few training sessions to be ready.

"The guy told me he is never tired, always healthy and recovers quickly. We need to protect him, but everybody is surprised at his level."

Jesus opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a close-range volley and gave City victory in stoppage time after Gylfi Sigurdsson had levelled with nine minutes to play.

"In the box, he is something special with the ball," Guardiola said.

"It is clear how his first touch is good. With his second, third, he needs to improve but, without the ball, he is involved.

"He is so intelligent, knows when to put pressure on the central defenders.

"Some guys need a lot of time to settle, to know the league, the teammates and others (settle) immediately, and that guy arrives like this."

JESUS' PEP TALK

Jesus revealed at the weekend that a personal phone call from Guardiola helped make up his mind to join City in a £27 million (S$47.5m) move that was completed last month.

I said, ‘Take your time, come back when you feel ready’... The guy told me he is never tired and recovers quickly.Man City boss Pep Guardiola on Gabriel Jesus

"When we buy a player, we expect the best for our decisions," said Guardiola.

"We take a lot of decisions every five minutes. We take and you judge, but always judge after, not judge before.

"Sometimes, we are right and sometimes not. We are so delighted because most of the big important clubs in Europe wanted him and he decided to come here.

"We expect the best because he is a striker for Brazil and it is not easy to play for the Brazil national team.

"Suddenly, he arrives and you have to play immediately. Eight minutes against Tottenham and you think, 'Wow'.

"I think he is hungry and has desire and shows so many good things."

Jesus secured three badly needed points for City, although it appeared that his opening goal would be worth only a point after Sigurdsson netted an 81st-minute equaliser for Swansea.

But, two minutes into injury time, Jesus struck again, leaving Guardiola with the tough decision on exactly how and when he will be able to rest the in-form striker.

The Champions League resumes in two weeks' time, with City facing Monaco in the Round of 16. They also have an FA Cup tie against Huddersfield just four days before that.

"We will see," said Guardiola.

"There are a lot of games. Now he deserves to be in the team, but we will see what happens in the next games because there are many." - AFP

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