Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed that Gabriel Jesus was ready to take the next step in his career and become a leader rather than a squad player.
The Brazilian opted to leave Premier League champions Manchester City earlier this summer in favour of reuniting with Arteta, who served as Pep Guardiola’s assistant manager before taking the reins at Arsenal.
Jesus has hit the ground running at Arsenal, first shining in a superb pre-season before putting in impressive performances against Crystal Palace and Leicester in the Premier League – the latter of which yielded two goals, two assists and a man of the match performance.
The 25-year-old’s role at Arsenal is already very different from the one he had City. Jesus was nothing more than a rotation option for Guardiola – given the immense out of talent at his disposal – and was part of an extremely experienced dressing room.
Things are very different in north London, with Arsenal having the youngest average age squad in the division, and Arteta has revealed in an interview with Sky Sports that Jesus’ arrival was not just to do with more playing time, but also because he had an opportunity to come in 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.
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“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.”