The last week has, in football terms, been a bit like having multiple Christmas Eves, but when you wake up the next day, Christmas has been pushed back with no indication as to when it might come around.
Everyone knew it was going to happen, it was just a question of time, and yesterday everything was made official: Gabriel Jesus is an Arsenal player, his £45m move from Man City completed. Despite the wait, and let’s face it the most important thing about this is the fact we’ve got the player and not how quickly he was announced, it’s a hugely exciting arrival. A four time Premier League title winner, still young having just turned 25, and he fills a very necessary gap in the squad.
Although Mikel Arteta referenced his versatility, Gabriel Jesus made it abundantly clear what his role is, saying:
“I’m the number 9! I’m a striker, you know. I can play in three or four different positions, but I think my position is 9.
“I have come to score goals.”
This really is a key signing for Arteta. There were various reasons why we fell short of the top four last season, but one of the main ones was the lack of goals from the centre-forward position. This is one the manager has to get right, and he’s gone for a player he knows well from his time at Man City. Even if his role there wasn’t always as a ‘9’, Arteta must have sufficient belief in his ability to do such an important job at this club.
Naturally enough he sounded a positive note about what he feels he can bring to Arsenal:
“He’s an incredible professional, with his work ethic and enthusiasm. You will see it the first day he puts on his boots and enters the training pitch; he has the enthusiasm that he is going to create on his own on that pitch.
“And then obviously there are his qualities – his hunger to score, his willingness to be coached, to improve. He is used to winning and he knows that winning is the only way to do it.
“I think he will set different standards at the club.”
His age is also an interesting aspect, having signed players between 21 and 23 last summer, adding a bit more experience is important according to the manager:
“We need to get the right balance between players in the first phase of their development, as well as those that are starting to hit the peak in their career,” he said.
“In Gabby’s case, for a striker it is still very early at 25, but he started really early too so all that experience is going to be very beneficial.”
At this point I’m sure most people have read and listened to plenty of stuff about Gabriel Jesus, but just in case, here’s a link drop for you to get you up to speed.
2 – Tim’s column from last week with lots of background
3 – Gabriel Jesus – By the numbers from Scott
Myself and Tim had a long conversation about him on the Arsecast Extra yesterday too, talking about the deal, the kind of player we’ve signed, and the role he’s going to have in this team. From a footballing perspective he adds a dynamism and energy we haven’t had up front for some time, and maybe now is the perfect moment for him to re-brand himself, so to speak, as a centre-forward. That’s where he started his career, but obviously at City his role was more fluid in their system.
His work-rate and energy are components to what I think, and hope, is going to be a shift in how we play we next season, and even with his prior knowledge of the player, I’m sure Arteta has done further due diligence in that regard. We also know how much character means to this manager. He has done a lot of work, some of it quite painful and difficult, to create the kind of environment he wants with the people he wants.
It’s a small thing, but I watched the video of Gabriel Jesus’ first day at the club, his photos, signing the contract etc, and he took the time to say hello to everybody. Not just the ‘famous faces’, but some young players, some background staff at the training ground and so on. Obviously being a nice guy isn’t the be-all and end-all, but I liked how he dealt with those interactions, and I’m sure this has factored into the decision making. He didn’t turn up like some kind of superstar, and I’m sure that will help the integration/settling in period.
Ultimately though, he’s here to score goals and he’s here to help others score goals too. That part of it shouldn’t be overlooked. His first job is to give us greater potency up front, and while he’s always scored goals, there’s still something to prove when you take on the role of the main man at a club like this and there’s that level of responsibility on you. For me he’s at a point in his career where that challenge is something that can make a player thrive, and let’s hope that’s the case at Arsenal.
However, we shouldn’t overlook how his presence up front can facilitate more end product from some of our existing players. A striker who can drop and collect and then get in the box feels like a step forward; and there are obvious benefits when you have a guy whose pressing game is basically second to none – at least if you believe someone like Pep Guardiola. So, when you consider a forward line which includes Gabriel Jesus, and the likes of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Odegaard and so on, it feels much more modern, much more mobile and with elements that are no longer as predictable as we have been.
There is no question that Gabriel Jesus has been our main target this summer, and while it might have taken a bit longer than people liked, he’s here now and he’s ready to go. He’s in training, hopefully he’ll settle in quickly but with no issues of adaptation because of language, weather or anything else that a player from another country might face, you’d expect that to be fairly seamless.
All in all, a really exciting arrival, and while there’s still work to do, this feels like a big deal and I can’t wait to see him do his stuff in red and white.
Right, that’s it for this morning. I’ll leave you with the brand new Arsecast Extra below. Happy listening!