From Bola de Ouro at Palmeiras to Potential Premier League Champion at Manchester City, How has Gabriel Jesus fared in One Year of English Topflight Football ?
While a certain Vera Lúcia Diniz de Jesus approached the final months of her third trimester in the twilight of the 1997 winter, English Division one club Manchester City were locked in a thick fog of uncertainty, no thanks to a poor string of results and one managerial mishap too many.
Neither Vera, nor City, had any idea what was happening on the flip-side of the planet, and while the struggling Brazilian mother successfully delivered a bouncing baby boy, the Cityzens, again, had failed to deliver joy to their supporters as they finished 14th on the log in the 1996/97 division one.
What did the newborn and the struggling club have in common at the time? Nothing!
Today? a lot, and although Gabriel Jesus isn’t turning water to wine at the Etihad, the 2015/16 Bola de Ouro has worked equally breathtaking miracles with his toes since joining the Cityzens two summers ago.
In the summer of 2016, after an incredible 2-year spell with Campeonato Brasileiro champions Palmeiras in which he was voted player of the season, the Sensational forward caught the eye of free spending Manchester City who edged rival sides to secure the services of the local hero from the favela streets of Sao Paolo.
At £27,000, Pep Guardiola and Txiki Bergiristain were thought to have closed an ‘okay deal’ at a fairly good price, except it wasn’t an ‘okay deal’ and there was nothing fair about the price, it was in fact, as we’ve come to realize in the last 12 months, an absolute steal.
The Catalans knew what they had seen in Jesus, maybe it wasn’t divinity, but it definitely was/still is, magical, worth much more than the official transfer fee agreed.
365 days, 26 appearances and 15 goals later, Brazilians in diaspora may have to sign a petition for a serious renegotiation between Manchester City and Palmeiras.
The Cityzens didn’t buy Gabriel Jesus from Verdao, the youngster was hijacked in a deal that will go down in history as one of the greatest transfer heists, well that’s a cup of coffee we’re going to reserve for the player’s agent.
On Friday, Gabriel Fernando de Jesus marked his one year anniversary with the Premier League leaders and although the Olympic champion remains sidelined with a medial collateral ligament, his stats thus far speak volume of what he brings to the table.
Today I’m celebrating one year since I arrived at Manchester City. I‘m sure I’m in the right place to accomplish my dreams. Thanks #City for believing on this guy from Peri that only wanted to play football. I’ll be back soon!!! pic.twitter.com/26gPl0umEJ
— Gabriel Jesus (@gabrieljesus33) January 19, 2018
The Versatile striker may not be as lethal as O fenomeno in his days at Internazionale, but with a conversion rate of 25.8%, (only Bobby Firmino has more, 27.8%) he’s no doubt one of the most lethal finishers in the Premier league as we speak.
The teenager from Veri, who just wanted to play football, has, in just 12 months since his arrival, belittled the famous striker’s hurdle that the Premier is popular for.
Although he’s not played a game since picking up that injury against Crystal Palace in December, Pep Guardiola’s preferred striker has already registered 10 goals this season, no City forward has more.
Truth be told, much wasn’t expected of his arrival from Palmeiras; young, talented, skillful, entertaining, but then the physical and competitive nature of the English top flight meant he needed time to adapt and settle.
He didn’t, and neither did he settle, he embraced the Premier league like a lost brother, scoring and providing an assist for Kevin De Bruyne in his first Premier league start for City.
With seven goals and four assists in his debut season, the numbers spoke for themselves, it became clear that the kid was no fluke.
Jesus just doesn’t mess around and even though he takes delight in nutmegging his darling mother, his brilliant link-up plays and superb finishing are proof that he’s takes more delight in making his employers happy.
While a number of pundits have questioned Pep Guardiola’s decision to abandon the Sanchez deal, the Catalan tactician made a valid point when he reminded everyone that in 2-3 weeks, the Brazilian would be expected to return to action.
The former Barcelona and Bayern manager also said quote ‘we need someone who scores goals’…. Alexis Sanchez is no doubt streets ahead of Jesus, but with the Brazilian’s staggering conversion rate, it’s easy to see why Pep would rather stick to Aguero and Jesus.
As it stands, Gabriel Jesus is definitely giving Manchester City plenty of value for their money, and while we wait for the return of the versatile forward, it’s necessary to keep in mind how well he’s done in just one year.
And oh, lest we forget, a couple of months down the road, he could be smiling home with a Premier League medal; It would take a brave man betting against City winning the League in May.
Just the sort of motivation a 20-year-old could use as he gears up to represent his country at the FIFA World Cup for the first time.