Teen's great show stuns Pep

City boss did not expect Brazilian Jesus, with 3 goals in first 2 games, to settle in so quickly

MANCHESTER • Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has admitted even he is surprised by the stunning start Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus has made in English football.

The 19-year-old scored twice on his full home debut as City recorded a 2-1 victory over Swansea on Sunday, meaning the youngster has scored three goals in his first two starts in the Premier League.

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 on 49 points, 10 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 only needed 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 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. Some guys need a lot of time to settle, to know the league, the team-mates and others immediately, and that guy arrives like this."

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$47.5 million) move last month.

Jesus taking to England like a fish to water has, however, cast another City striker's future in doubt. Sergio Aguero admitted he does not know if he has a future under Pep Guardiola after losing his starting place leading City's attack.

A talismanic figure in City's two Premier League title wins, the Argentinian was left out of the starting line-up against West Ham and Swansea.

While he was keen to insist he wants to see out a contract at the Etihad that runs until 2020, the 28-year-old conceded that the decision is out of his hands.

"I will work hard for the remaining three months and then we'll see if the club wants me," he told reporters after Sunday's win. "I want to stay. I am fine. It is normal. Sometimes this happens. When you're on the bench, you have to wait for your opportunity."

Guardiola has insisted that Jesus and Aguero could partner each other and the more senior of the two players admitted he has been impressed by what he has seen so far.

"He's a great player," Aguero said. "He's a very young player, but he will learn a lot at City and he will have a great future at the club.

Guardiola said he had been pleased by Aguero's response to being left out. "His reaction was perfect. Don't worry about that," said the Spaniard.

"Of course he wants to play and it mustn't be easy. I understand that. "Sergio remains one of the most important players in our squad and with what we have to do in the next period, he will be so, so important."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2017, with the headline 'Teen's great show stuns Pep'. Print Edition | Subscribe