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Why Arteta and Gabriel Jesus reunited makes sense for Arsenal and the player

I wrote this on Tuesday for my Sun Football, weekly column ………

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Advanced talks

The most trusted Arsenal sources have reported that Edu and Arsenal have been talking to Gabriel Jesus’ people and that the deal to bring City’s Brazilian international to North London is highly probable. If the player is keen then given the friendship between Guardiola and Arteta, and the respect that Pep obviously has for Jesus, it seems his current club would sanction the sale. The fee, as the striker, only has a year left, could be less than £30 million.

The reaction to the rumoured deal seems mixed with the Arsenal fans, with most seemingly content for the weekend’s 4 goal hero to arrive, but only if he is not the only striking addition. Many, understandably, feel Arsenal need a more traditional centre forward, given how we play currently. The style that the majority want is the player I like to describe as ‘Giroud with pace!’ Certainly, Tammy Abraham fits that bill, but Darwin Nunez is another that would excite the Arsenal faithful.

Need a Giroud with pace

Jesus, however, appeals enormously to me, for many reasons, none of which mean I too don’t understand the desire for 2 attacking signings, with Aubameyang departed, Nketiah and Lacazette likely to leave and Balogun still untested. With over 50 full caps for Brazil, and three Premier League titles, even though still only 25, would bring bags of experience and know how to a largely young squad, adding to the core of senior players in the group.

Some would, wrongly in my view, point to the fact that Pep has not trusted Jesus as a centre forward, but I feel that misses the point. The player himself has never thought of himself as a traditional centre forward and since he burst on to the international scene Brazil have seldom required such a striker, preferring a mobile and pacey front three. City when Aguero was in his pomp did play with a striker, but Pep totally re-invented the Argentinian’s game and team contribution outside the box first.

Reinvented SA

Jesus is a modern style attacker, equipped to play anywhere in front three, in a three behind a striker or as the striker. His flexibility, honesty and work rate must appeal to Arteta, who will of course know him well. The player, like so many who worked with the Arsenal manager, during his time at City, has nothing but praise for is former coach.

The template may not be Arteta’s often used 4231, or even the current style of 4123, both of which require the target/hold-up man. Perhaps the new template of the fluid City style false nine, or indeed more likely the new Liverpool style of 433. For Klopp, for many years the brilliance of Mane and Salah as wide strikers tucking in, was made possible by the wonderful hold up and link play of Firmino, but that is no longer the case. The veteran Brazilian is now a squad player with Jota and Diaz more likely to be used. Could it be that Arteta is considering a Martinelli, Jesus, Saka front three, in that style? A fluid interchangeable threesome, without the Lacazette role?

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Re-united, will it feel so good?

If this is the case, it would suit Gabriel Jesus and it would explain why the player is reportedly keen on the move, because he wants and needs to play more regularly. He is competing with the likes of Richarlison, Barbosa, Rodrygo, Vinicius, Firmino, Raphina and now our own Martinelli for a place in the Brazil World Cup squad so he needs to be playing and contributing weekly the top level. Arteta and Arsenal can offer Jesus that.

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Wants to be at World Cup

His skill, incisive finishing, speed, determination, experience, unselfishness and team ethic are all key assets and, some of which are amongst Arteta’s non-negotiables, so in my view the signing is secured makes perfect sense. Add to the list, like his compatriot, Martinelli, Jesus is a fabulous high presser. The Brazilian not only scores goals but makes them for colleagues as well and the interchange with Saka and Odegaard could be moth watering. In 2020 he ended the campaign with 14 goals and 7 assists in 27 Premier League appearances, but only 21 starts – stats to be proud off.

I do understand the desire for a 25 goal a season striker and I do expect 2 signings, but if Jesus was to play regularly in a more fluid front three, I think we could expect high double figures from him, Saka and Martinelli, and we must not forget Smith Rowe’s likely contribution. The key will be to add more goals from Odegaard and from central midfield.

In short, Gabriel Jesus, it’s a yes from me.

 

This is the full, unedited version of yesterday’s Sun Football Fan’s View piece.

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