Gabriel Jesus to Arsenal is perhaps the most intriguing transfer of the summer so far from a Dream Team perspective.
The Brazilian spent five and half years at Man City, where he won eight major trophies including four Premier League titles.
However, there is still a lingering sense that the jury is somewhat out on the 25-year-old, despite his record of 95 goals from 236 appearances for the Citizens, because of how he was used under Pep Guardiola.
The decorated tactician was evidently a fan of Jesus as he paid him several notable compliments over the years, famously calling him the ‘best in the world’ in regards to defensive contribution among forwards.
And yet, to think of the Brazilian’s time at the Etihad is to think of him coming off the bench (or retiring to it) with 25 minutes to go.
Rotation is an inevitable part of life among City’s star-studded squad but Jesus was subjected to the shuffled pack more than most.
In five full seasons, the most league starts he was afforded was 22 in 2020/21 – 57.9% of the maximum.
Even when Sergio Aguero’s injury troubles and departure left a gigantic hole in City’s shape, Jesus could not pin down the role of centre-forward for long.
Instead, Guardiola preferred a semi-strikerless system with the likes of Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling all taking turns to lead the line as a ‘false 9’.
Having been previously touted as a natural striker in Brazil, Jesus finished his City career as a right winger – a change that actually resulted in some of his best form for the club.
No doubt the Emirates faithful will hope to revive the poacher in Jesus with the Gunners desperately needing a striker who suits their system and is also capable of scoring 20+ goals a season.
In regards to the first aspect, there should be no issue as Jesus’ previously referenced defensive ability will help Mikel Arteta implement his coordinated high press – the Spaniard knows the forward well from his time as Guardiola’s assistant of course.
In terms of link-up play, Jesus may actually be slightly worse than Alexandre Lacazette, who ticked a lot of boxes for Arteta but not the biggest one of all: goals.
What Arsenal fans are hoping their new No9 brings that their old one couldn’t is the ability to convert enough chances to goals to qualify for the Champions League.
With the likes of Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe and new boy Fabio Vieira providing plenty of youthful exuberance and talent, the club are crying out for goalscorer to take them to the next level.
Lacazette mustered just four league goals from 30 appearances last season at a rate of one every 447.3 minutes – simply not good enough.
Jesus averages a goal every 160.4 minutes in the Premier League but will he be able to maintain that impressive rate in north London?
On the one hand, he’ll be without the unmatched service he was blessed with at City – he has significantly underperformed against expected goals (xG) in recent years yet still boasts a good record.
On the other hand, it’s likely he’ll be given a chance to rack up a long run of starts and plenty of minutes to build momentum, something he was rarely afforded under Guardiola.
We predict that Jesus will be one of the most-popular players among Dream Team gaffers ahead of Game Week 1, which gets underway with Arsenal’s trip to Crystal Palace on August 5th.
His starting price of £5.0m puts in below the premium bracket on par with Darwin Nunez and £0.5m more expensive than Diogo Jota, Jamie Vardy and Wilfried Zaha.
Despite restricted game time, Jesus finished among the top ten forwards last term – will a change of environment help him challenge the likes of Son Heung-min and Cristiano Ronaldo in the top five?
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