Soccer

Pep Guardiola informs Arsenal of surprise role Gabriel Jesus can fill after Man City exit

All or Nothing Arsenal: Mikel Arteta delivers dressing room speech

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Pep Guardiola has suggested Gabriel Jesus could fill a surprising role at Arsenal after breaking his silence on the Brazilian’s £45million summer switch. Jesus has left Manchester City after a successful six-year stint and has already made a splash at his new club during pre-season.

The 25-year-old has been part of a triple-header of big-money departures from Guardiola’s squad ahead of the new season. Sterling also left for rivals Chelsea in a £50m deal before Oleksandr Zinchenko joined him at Arsenal, who splashed a further £32m on his services.

Ahead of Saturday’s Community Shield match against Liverpool, Guardiola addressed their exits for the first time. The Catalan boss described Jesus as potentially the ‘nicest’ person he’s worked alongside and credited him for arriving at the club to compete with a Man City icon in Sergio Aguero.

He said: “Gabriel maybe is the nicest person I have ever worked with. It was a huge task to be alongside and compete with the legend of this club, Sergio Aguero. Sergio Aguero scored a lot of goals with us. So Gabriel, a young, young player from Brazil, came to compete with him, and he was all the time ready to accept everything.”

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Guardiola also heaped praise on the departed star’s versatility, surprisingly crediting his ability as a defender as well as a striker and winger. He admitted he would miss Jesus in his squad for the upcoming game but would take great pleasure in his success at the Emirates Stadium.

“He’s the best striker/defender I ever found to play in the three positions,” Guardiola continued. “[He] can play five minutes; he plays the best five minutes of his life. He plays for 90 minutes; he will give everything. I had the feeling that in most cases, we would miss him, but it’s football, it’s life, and the successes, all of them, will be our happiness.”

Jesus made 233 appearances in all competitions for Man City, registering 95 goals and 46 assists. He lifted four Premier League titles, four League Cups, two Community Shields and an FA Cup during his spell at the Etihad Stadium.

Mikel Arteta is widely expected to use him as his starting striker, competing with Eddie Nketiah, with Bukayo Saka occupying the right flank. But Arteta will completely trust Guardiola’s analysis, so a short shift on the defensive side of things when needed may not come as a complete surprise.

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