LONDON • Manchester City received a boost ahead of their Community Shield clash against Chelsea tomorrow and in the longer term, after key striker Gabriel Jesus signed a two-year contract extension.
The new deal will keep the 21-year-old Brazil international, who joined in January last year for £27 million (S$48 million) from Palmeiras, at the Premier League champions until 2023, City said yesterday.
Despite his stop-start time in Manchester due to foot and knee injuries, Jesus has scored 24 goals in 53 matches across all competitions for City since his arrival and helped them win the league title and League Cup under manager Pep Guardiola last season.
He scored the last Premier League goal of last season against Southampton in the 94th minute. The win gave City 100 points in the division, which is a record.
"I can say that it was the best decision I've made in my life to come to Manchester City because whilst I'm here, I'm improving as a professional and as a person," he told City's website.
"Pep had an important role in my signing, but also the club. City is a huge club and it is getting bigger and bigger, so I just want to say thanks for everything."
Jesus, who represented Brazil at the World Cup, returned to training with City on Tuesday after being given an extended holiday.
Chelsea v Man City: Key battles
MARCOS ALONSO V RIYAD MAHREZ
Mahrez is City's sole major addition this summer, a £60 million (S$106 million) club-record signing. An ankle injury suffered against Bayern Munich should not deny him a debut. It gives him an early chance to displace Raheem Sterling. Alonso, outstanding as a wing-back for Antonio Conte, will have to adjust to playing left-back for Maurizio Sarri.
JORGINHO V ILKAY GUNDOGAN
Jorginho could have been debuting for City. Instead, Chelsea pipped them to one of Pep Guardiola's major targets. The Brazil-born Italy international is the sort of accurate, attacking passer who begins moves in the way Guardiola likes. If Fernandinho doesn't start, Gundogan could anchor City's midfield - the role earmarked for Jorginho.
ALVARO MORATA V AYMERIC LAPORTE
Morata missed a penalty in a Community Shield shoot-out on his Chelsea debut 12 months ago. He missed another in a friendly with Arsenal on Wednesday, when his poor form brought memories of last season. Laporte was the January signing bought for the future. After being eased into life at City, he must now make his mark.
City's director of football Txiki Begiristain noted: "Gabriel is undoubtedly one of the best young forwards in world football, so to have him commit his future to us is a huge boost.
"There's so much variety in his game. I know how much Pep enjoys working with him and I am really looking forward to watching his development in the coming years."
Guardiola, who has tended to alternate Jesus with Sergio Aguero in his preferred formation which features a lone striker, has made only one major signing in the close season. That was the club-record £60 million deal for Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez.
The Spaniard had also targeted a defensive midfielder and, after missing out on Jorginho to Chelsea last month, has his sights set on Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti, reported the Manchester Evening News.
There was also good news for new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri as forward Pedro agreed a one-year contract extension until 2020. The 31-year-old, a World Cup and European Championship winner with Spain, joined Chelsea in 2015 and won the league title in 2017 and the FA Cup last term.
"It's important for me to continue with Chelsea, I am comfortable here and want to win new titles and trophies. I want to help the team, score goals, and I repeat, I am really happy," he told the club's website.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE