Gabriel Jesus was prepared to advance in his career and switch from being a squad member to a leader, according to Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.
Earlier this summer, the Brazilian decided to part ways with Premier League champions Manchester City in favour of reuniting with Arteta, who was Pep Guardiola’s assistant manager before taking over at Arsenal.
Jesus has made an immediate impact at Arsenal, first shining in an outstanding preseason before turning in strong performances against Crystal Palace and Leicester in the Premier League – the latter of which resulted in two goals, two assists, and a performance that earned him the man of the match honours.
The 25-year-old’s position at Arsenal is already very dissimilar from his position with City. Given the abundance of talent at Guardiola’s disposal, Jesus was nothing more than a rotation option and a highly skilled team member.
With Arsenal having the division’s youngest average age squad, things are very different in north London, and Arteta recently told Sky Sports that Jesus’ arrival was not just about getting more playing time but also about having a chance to step up and be a leader.
“That’s one of the biggest reasons why we wanted to sign him,” Arteta confessed. “Obviously we know how he is as a player and what he was going to bring. He’s won everything in the last few years, he knows the standards, what it takes to win.
“Obviously, we had to change his role and what he had to do in this football club and now he’s one of the leaders. He’s a natural leader, but he’s also somebody that is prepared and I think is in a stage of his career where he’s able to do what we are demanding him to do.”
“That’s what he needed,” Arteta added of his change in environment. “Obviously he’s played a lot of games in this league in the last few years but not that many as a starter, especially in the last two years.
“He really wants to feel like the player that can make the difference for the team and that’s the next stage.”