Belfast Telegraph

Jesus is an ‘animal’ on the pitch and I understand his frustration – Guardiola

The Brazilian has found starts hard to come by this season.

Gabriel Jesus is keen to see more action for Manchester City (Martin Rickett/PA)
Gabriel Jesus is keen to see more action for Manchester City (Martin Rickett/PA)

By Andy Hampson, PA

Pep Guardiola has hailed Gabriel Jesus as a special talent and can understand his frustration at his lack of starts for Manchester City.

Brazil striker Jesus has started just three games for City this season due to the outstanding form of Sergio Aguero, who has already netted eight times since the campaign began.

Jesus spoke of his desire to play more in an interview with a Brazilian media outlet this week, but the 22-year-old did make clear that he was happy at the Etihad Stadium and had no intention of upsetting the harmony in the squad.

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Pep Guardiola says Gabriel Jesus’ words were ‘incredibly respectful’ (Gabriel Jesus/PA).

Jesus told Esporte Interativo: “I want to play, I want to help without going over anyone.

“I understand the manager’s head and I respect (but) I make it very clear that I always want to be playing.

“I’m very happy at City, so there’s no reason to leave City.”

City manager Guardiola feels they are the words of a good professional.

He said: “He’s special. I read the interview and it was perfect. It was incredibly respectful, like Gabriel is.

Of course he wants to play. He’s the number nine for the national team, Brazil. He’s maybe the only striker in the world at his level that has to have this mentality Pep Guardiola on Gabriel Jesus

“Of course he wants to play. He’s the number nine for the national team, Brazil. He’s maybe the only striker in the world at his level that has to have this mentality.

“Every time he went on the pitch – one second, two minutes, 90 minutes – he plays like an animal.

“I understand completely. I try but no player, not only Gabriel, will be happy if they don’t play regularly. That is what it is.

“It’s an easy answer. If he plays he will be happy, if he doesn’t play he will not be happy.”

Jesus scored his third goal of the season in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup win at Preston but, as Guardiola prefers to play only one striker, he may have to make way again at Everton in the Premier League on Saturday.

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Gabriel Jesus scores in Manchester City’s FA Cup final win over Watford (Nick Potts/PA).

Guardiola said: “I try to let both players play as much as possible. Both are incredible players.

“Sergio could have scored five goals against Watford and Gabriel could have scored three or four against Preston. Gabriel was incredible in the (FA Cup) final against Watford and against Shakhtar (Donetsk in the Champions League).

“Normally I don’t play with two strikers. I did in the last minutes at Norwich and it wasn’t good. So it’s difficult for me to tell one you don’t play.

“In some games Gabriel gives me something Sergio can’t, and other games Sergio gives us something Gabriel cannot. Both guys are incredible.”

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Benjamin Mendy hopes his injury problems are behind him (Richard Sellers/PA).

One player making his way back into the City side after more than two years of injury problems is left-back Benjamin Mendy.

The Frenchman had another half-an-hour at Preston after playing the first 45 minutes of last Saturday’s 8-0 thrashing of Watford and is determined to prove the doubters wrong.

Mendy said: “It was not easy because I understand some people were saying, ‘He never plays’ or something like that. I know some said this.

“Now I’m back and I want to give everything for this club and this team. I came here to do this. I knew what I could give to this team and I was sad because I lost the time but it’s like this.

“I can do nothing about my injury, now I forget the past and I focus on the present and the future.”

PA

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