Gabriel Jesus has been one of the summer’s most wanted men.
Brazilian Jesus, who helped Manchester City to four titles in five-and-a-half years, attracted interest from a host of clubs in England and beyond before settling on a £45m move to Arsenal.
The Gunners see the 25-year-old as a major boost to their attacking options, after the departures of both Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. So can he help the north Londoners back into the Champions League after a six-year absence?
What will Jesus bring the Gunners? The numbers
Jesus was never considered a prolific goalscorer during his time at Etihad Stadium, although 95 goals in 236 appearances isn’t a bad return.
Add to that his trophy haul with Pep Guardiola’s men; four titles, three League Cups and an FA Cup, and you can understand the excitement among Arsenal fans.
With Mikel Arteta’s young Arsenal squad showing plenty of promise last season, one of their key deficiencies was in front of goal, scoring fewer than the four teams who finished above them.
Arteta relied on his younger players for goals, with 20-year-old Bukayo Saka their leading scorer with 12, and fellow England international Emile Smith Rowe, 21, adding 11.
A closer look at Jesus’ stats suggest, given regular game time, he could provide the extra goals the Gunners need.
He has scored in 42% of his Premier League starts – the 13th-highest ratio in the competition’s history among players with more than 50 Premier League starts.
His average of 159 minutes per goal also ranks favourably, being the 14th-best among players with 50 or more Premier League goals once penalties are removed from their tallies.
Jesus brought far more than just goals to Manchester City, though, with his work-rate and ability to play in various roles across the forward line making him a key man for Guardiola.
He was often called upon for the Premier League champions’ biggest games and was something of a talisman for them. He lost just 19 of the 121 top-flight matches in which he appeared for City, with a 76% win rate.
Jesus assisted eight league goals for City in 2021-22, the joint-most of any player at the club, along with Kevin de Bruyne, and assisted 29 in his time at the club, creating 151 chances.
‘It’s time for him to be the main man’
Jesus spent much of his time at City playing second fiddle to Sergio Aguero – and with Erling Haaland and Julian Alvarez arriving this summer, was aware that he would have had limited game time this coming season had he stayed.
So has the Brazil international finally got the chance to be a Premier League main man?
With Lacazette joining Lyon this summer and Aubameyang moving to Barcelona in February, Arsenal’s forward line is short on experience – with 23-year-old Eddie Nketiah their only other option as a main striker.
“I’m very excited. I think Gabriel Jesus is a world-class player, although he wasn’t utilised as much as he possibly could have been,” former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast.
“A good gauge is whenever the big games came around, he played, he started – and, most of the time, he either assisted or scored. Arteta has worked with him. He knows what type of player he is. Haaland will be the main man at City, so it’s time for Jesus to be the main man somewhere else.”
Is Jesus going to be Arsenal’s 20-goal striker?
Ray Parlour, another Arsenal great, told Talksport that Jesus is a “brilliant signing” who will get the club “closer to the top four”.
But is Jesus going to be that prolific striker Arsenal hoped they were getting with Aubameyang?
“If you look at the numbers, Jesus is actually very similar to Alexandre Lacazette,” ex-Tottenham and Republic of Ireland defender Stephen Kelly told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast. “And he’s been playing in one of the most creative teams in the world.
“Can he go to Arsenal and score 20 goals this season? They have desperate need for someone, but I don’t think those goals are guaranteed.”
Harry Symeou, from the Chronicles of a Gooner podcast, believes Arsenal have done well with their four signings this summer – Jesus, forward Marquinhos, goalkeeper Matt Turner and midfielder Fabio Vieira – and argues that the new arrival from Manchester City does not have to score a hatful of goals to be a success.
“Jesus is going to be a great fit,” he said. “We need a centre-forward. I think when you look at where Arsenal are today and where they want to get to, this was as good an option as what was available.
“This sounds crazy but Gabriel Jesus isn’t coming to Arsenal to score 25 goals in the Premier League. That’s not what Arsenal are looking for. They are looking for someone to get into double figures but to continue bringing the best out of the attack as a unit.
“Had Lacazette got 10 or 15 goals, Arsenal would have been a completely different ball game. He’s coming in because of all the other factors as much as he is coming in to add to the goal tally.”
Jesus prefers to play wide – analysis
BBC Sport’s Simon Stone
Mikel Arteta knows exactly what to expect from Gabriel Jesus, given they worked together at Manchester City.
The Brazilian is the Gunners’ fourth summer signing, and feels like the replacement for former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who left for Barcelona in February, even if his goals output – 58 goals in 159 Premier League appearances – has been sporadic.
If the selfless way Jesus went about his work at City is any guide, he will be less difficult to handle than Aubameyang and more likely to fit into Arteta’s team pattern.
Arteta was at City when Jesus arrived from Palmeiras in January 2017.
At the time, he was only 19 – his signing had been completed a few months earlier but he remained in Brazil to complete their domestic campaign – and he performed so well, there was talk of Sergio Aguero being eased out of Etihad Stadium, because it was suggested Jesus was a better fit with Pep Guardiola’s preferred style.
But after three goals in his first three top flight appearances, Jesus broke his foot. Aguero got his place back, started scoring again and the idea of selling him was ditched.
It soon also became apparent that Jesus preferred to play wide, even though he was more direct – and less tricky – than the brilliant City team-mates who also fill that role.
For the past two seasons, when Guardiola needed someone to play as a centre-forward, the choice was hardly ever Jesus. Arteta knows this, so it seems unlikely he has spent £45m on someone with the intention of moving him into a position he does not like.