Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola claims he is happy with the form of young striker Gabriel Jesus even though the Brazilian appears to be suffering a hangover from his country’s disappointing World Cup campaign.
The 21-year-old has started just two of City’s first five league games of the season and, in that period, scored one goal, in the 6-1 demolition of Huddersfield at the Etihad.
But, on the day that City’s record goalscorer Sergio Aguero signed a new contract that will keep him at the club for three more years, Guardiola insisted he is happy with Jesus’s development.
“He’s happy,” said Guardiola at his press conference on the eve of their league match with Cardiff.
“He’s been good so far with his performances.
“His movement, his high pressing is the best in the world.
“But he’s still young and they have a gap to improve, we have to help in the final third, to take decisions, to find spaces.
“It’s the most important thing for Gabriel Jesus to know he can improve and pay attention in the training sessions.”
In keeping with a number of high-profile Premier League stars, Jesus — who at times over the past two years Guardiola has selected at the expense of Aguero — does appear to be struggling for form following this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
Brazil were below-par in the group stage before losing to Belgium in the knock-out stages with Jesus failing to score despite starting all five of his country’s games in the tournament.
“The World Cup I was not there,” said Guardiola.
“But they are young and that’s the challenge, continue to challenge about what you’ve done. If you are able to overcome it.
“In the good moments you have to be stable and in the bad moments you see the best athletes in the world take the new challenges and face them. If you are not able to do it, then learn and improve.”
Guardiola, at least, believes the news that Jesus can work alongside Aguero for the next three years, on the training field if not necessarily in the same line-up, can only be good for the younger player.
“Of course,” said the 47-year-old Spaniard.
“We can all learn — Gabriel from Sergio, and myself from the players, everyone can improve.
“He’s (Aguero) a good model to learn from — how he moves in the 18 yard box.”