Gabriel Jesus has revealed he told Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and sporting director Edu he wanted to play as a central striker when he joined the club, but his opinion has now changed.
Gabriel Jesus “made it clear” that he wanted to play as a No.9 when he left Manchester City to join Arsenal, but is now content to feature out wide as well.
Jesus made the move to Arsenal last summer and scored 11 goals in 26 Premier League appearances as the Gunners’ first-choice striker. This season, however, all three of Jesus’ league starts have come on the wing with manager Mikel Arteta opting to persist with Eddie Nketiah as the central striker.
Jesus missed the start of the season after undergoing knee surgery and Nketiah impressed in his absence, netting two goals in three games and earning a spot in the England squad. However, he has not scored a league goal since Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Fulham in August, leading some to suggest Jesus should replace Nketiah as the No.9.
Speaking about his start to the season while on international duty with Brazil, Jesus opened up about being used out wide. “It’s worth pointing out that I’ve been playing a lot of roles at Arsenal,” he said.
“Obviously when I chose to move from City to Arsenal, Edu and Arteta spoke to me, and I made it clear that I’d like to play 9. That was Arsenal’s idea, for me to play 9, loose. This season has been different, we’ve had injuries and in the last few games I’ve played three up front.
“For a while, I thought I’d just say I wanted to play 9, but I’m here to help the team. I’m blessed by God to have this talent and the versatility to play in all three forward positions. I prefer not to choose.”
The 26-year-old has scored just one league goal so far this season, but Arteta is confident he will be back to his best soon. Speaking last month, Arteta said Jesus “changed our world” after joining the club.
“He is a tremendous player, a really important player for us,” Arteta said. “He changed our world last season. You could all see that. He is going to be a really important player for us. I think he brought a different energy, a different belief, a different threat, a different fear to opponents.
“And he did it in a really natural way. He contributed hugely to the step that we had last season. He obviously draws a lot of attention from opponents with the way he plays and creates space for others. That’s a big quality of his.
“When you sign a player that you know, who has done it in the league and has the hunger and right reasons to join us, it was a no brainer for us to do it. And you could see the impact he had on the team straight away.”
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