Arsenal find themselves at a juncture in their development under Mikel Arteta. Even as the Gunners faltered in their effort to secure a top four finish last season, their growth was clear. Whether or not they are moving quickly enough, the Emirates Stadium club is finally heading in the right direction again.
However, this summer could determine the ultimate success or failure of Arteta’s tenure. He needs additions in a number of key areas to take Arsenal to the next level and Gabriel Jesus has been identified as one such player with the Brazilian expected to complete a transfer from Manchester City in the coming days.
According to widespread reports, Arteta prioritised the capture of Jesus before the summer window had even opened. Of course, the Arsenal boss worked with the 25-year-old at City and knows exactly what he will offer his team. That personal relationship was reportedly key in persuading Jesus to leave the Premier League champions for North London.
While Jesus got his hands on no fewer than eight major trophies over five seasons as a Manchester City player, he was never a central figure for Pep Guardiola. Arteta, however, wants to build his Arsenal team around the Brazilian international, whether that’s as a centre forward or a right winger.
Not only is Jesus the perfect player to lift Arsenal as a team, the Emirates Stadium could be the perfect place for the 25-year-old to reach a higher level as an individual. This transfer could act as a catalyst for Jesus to become the player so many envisaged he would be when he made the £27m move to the Premier League as a teenager.
As a ball carrier, Jesus is one of the best around. He is in the 93rd percentile for successful dribbles that lead to a shot attempt per 90 minutes (0.52) and the 77th percentile for carries into the penalty area per 90 minutes (1.49). This is despite playing for a Manchester City team that likes to hold the ball high up the pitch.
For Arsenal, Jesus will frequently find more space in quick transition. The Gunners also like to control the ball, but they are quicker to hit out on the break and this will suit the natural game of their new Brazilian attacker. His dribbling ability allows him to affect play in a number of different ways. Arteta will look to harness this.
It could be the case that Jesus’ goalscoring number dip as an Arsenal player. The Brazilian scored 58 goals in 159 league appearances for Manchester City, but a large portion of these were converted from close range. Jesus benefited from the number of cut-backs played by his City teammates and he might not get on the end of as many opportunities in North London.
Jesus is in the 80th percentile for pressures in the attacking third per 90 minutes (6.94), making him a better fit for Arteta’s system than any other attacker at the club. His passing is sharp and creative, making him the ideal figure to play as a number nine in Arsenal’s team, but his dribbling ability and threat in one-on-one situations could make him a better fit on the wing.
Either way, Arsenal and Jesus have the potential to be good for each other. Arteta’s determination to sign the Brazilian from his former club suggests he has a plan on how to get the best out of the player and Jesus’ willingness to make the switch to North London says he believes in his new manager’s ability to get the best out of him. This could be what both parties need right now.