Guardiola now sure Jesus and Aguero can click

LONDON • Pep Guardiola is certain Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero can play together for Manchester City, despite suggesting it was a disaster when they first linked up.

The City manager surprisingly started with the fit-again Aguero on the bench, as they moved a step closer to Champions League qualification by beating Leicester 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Fourth-placed City are three points ahead of fifth-placed Arsenal with two games remaining as they battle for a top-four finish.

Jesus scored the penalty that put City two goals in front after David Silva had given them the lead.

The Brazilian striker's arrival from Palmeiras in January has cast doubt over Aguero's long-term future, even though the Argentinian has scored 31 goals this season.

The two forwards did start together for the 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough on April 30 but struggled initially before clicking, and they had 12 minutes alongside each other against Leicester after Aguero came on as a late substitute.

"Both of them have quality enough to see who wins the game for the side," Guardiola said. "Gabriel can play on the left if Aguero is in the middle. In Brazil, Gabriel plays most of the time on the left.

"Of course they can play together. It depends on their behaviour and mood."

Jesus' penalty means he has scored twice in three matches since returning after 21/2 months out with a broken foot.

"We cannot forget that Gabriel was out injured for almost three months," Guardiola said. "Gabriel is a guy who understands perfectly he has a lot of things to learn. He is open-minded, he will do it."

Meanwhile, Guardiola's shake-up of City gathers pace as Pablo Zabaleta will leave the club at the end of the season.

The Argentinian has been at City for nine years and is out of contract from July 1. The fixture against West Brom tomorrow will be the defender's last home appearance.

Zabaleta has made 332 appearances since signing for £6.5 million from Espanyol the day before it was announced that Sheikh Mansour was the club's new owner and he made his debut for City in September 2008.

Reports suggested the 32-year-old is lining up a move to West Ham.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2017, with the headline 'Guardiola now sure Jesus and Aguero can click'. Print Edition | Subscribe