Wall Street Football

A new gunner

After six seasons on Manchester’s blue side, Gabriel Jesus changed his jersey to move to one of London’s most iconic teams, the Arsenal Football Club.
From 2017 to now, he has made 233 appearances with 95 goals and 46 assists with the citizens, entering in the English league at a very young age, not even 20 years old.

The transfer took place for 52 mln Euro: not an exorbitant sum for a striker, especially in 2022, which suggests that the growth of Brazilian striker is not completed. 

After establishing himself in Brazil with Palmeiras and all eyes in Europe were on him, Pep Guardiola brought him to the league.

Coexistence with the Spanish coach has not been easy due to his forwardless way of playing focused mainly on occupying space and not on roles.

Pure strikers have not always had the easiest time: a clear example in Manchester is the experience of Sergio Agüero, a legend of the club, sidelined over the years. Gabriel Jesus did not have a different destiny despite not being classified as an old-fashioned striker but a modern one, capable of doing more than one thing on the pitch.

Although his not-so-excellent physical size (1.75 m for 73 kg), he has an innate ability to protect the ball connected to an exceptional quickness in turning his body and facing the goal with a purely Brazilian technique. These characteristics make him unpredictable and also capable of occupying several positions, thus he has also been used many times on the wings to then move into the center and create goal chances.

From the Season 2016/2017 to the last one, he has only once exceeded 30 appearances in the Premier League: during the Season 2019/2020 he made 34 games with 14 goals and 8 assists, marking it as his best season from a goalscoring point of view.

Never making more than 30 appearances shows how the player never really was at the center of the project, also due to the great abundance in the forwards’ department. 

The 2017/2018 is the only other season in which he exceeded 10 goals, scoring 13 strikes, almost all when he was in the eleven line-up.

Another main skill is his quality in the last crucial passes, with peaks of 8 and 9 assists in a season that are not few for a first striker, but also his great ability in dribbling proved by an average per game over 6 years that varies between 0.8 and 1.7 of successful dribbles, with a percentage that has never fallen below 58%.

In England, he has established himself as one of the most skillful 1-on-1 number 9.

He’s also capable of being decisive in major competitions such as in the Copa América final won by Brazil in 2019 with a goal and an assist, and in the Champions League where in 38 appearances he scored 20 goals and made 5 assists: considering his still young age is an impressive amount!

He arrives at one of the most emblazoned teams in England that has not excelled in recent years: indeed, having failed to qualify for the Champions League, next season they will play in the Europa League.

In recent years the last number 9 was Alexandre Lacazette who did not leave much of a mark and never scored more than 14 goals in the league: in 5 years he collected only 71 goals in 206 appearances.

Arteta’s team is looking for a reference point up front, which the Brazilian has the potential to become quickly. Not only on the scoring side, but even the style of playing that is founded on wings speed and their ability to aim the goal seems to fit well with Jesus’ skillset of serving his teammates.

In the last Championship he scored 8 goals and 8 assists with an average of only 68 minutes per match. He has played 28 games, the lowest in his career apart from the first Season when he arrived in the January market window, and he still managed a good average WSF Performance Index of 6.4.

Jesus WSF Performance Index – Season 2021/2022

He has excellent passing technique with 26.2 passes per game, with 22.2 successful and an accuracy percentage of 84.9%, placing him among the top 10 forwards in Premier league last season.

Jesus passes stats – Season 2021/2022

Not so well his duels and shooting stats: he has an average of 8.3 duels attempted of which he wins 3.8, while regarding shooting he makes 2.3 shots per match and only 0.9 on target, with a low 0.3 goal per game.

On the other hand, an interesting statistic in scoring is his number of goals with the National Team: he made 19 strikes in 56 matches, almost a goal every 3 games, that is impressive in a team like Brazil, rich of talented strikers!

Therefore the bet seems to be on: the Spanish coach knows the player well thanks to his years as Guardiola’s second in charge and his main challenge will be to make him fundamental for the team.

Will he be the next gunner of gunners?

by Giorgio Patania, Elisa Zanchetta

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