Manchester City was dealt an unfortunate hand Monday evening, as new signing Gabriel Jesus injured his foot in their 2-0 Premier League victory at Bournemouth. The Brazilian striker will reportedly be out of action for two to three months.
The injury comes at a frustrating time for both the player and the club, as Jesus’ arrival at the Etihad Stadium had brought immediate production. The 19-year-old has scored three league goals in only four appearances for manager Pep Guardiola’s side.
Jesus rose to prominence quickly in his home nation, starring for both Palmeiras and the Selecao. While many thought he would need time to adapt to English football, the talented forward has demonstrated excellent skill and incredible pace in a short span of time.
For City, his injury comes during a critical part of their calendar. Currently sitting second in the league table behind Chelsea, the squad travel Saturday for a fifth-round FA Cup match at Huddersfield Town.
But where the effects could be felt most is the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 beginning next week. Manchester City host Ligue 1 leaders AS Monaco in the first leg of the knockout round.
We look at the impact of Jesus’ time on the sidelines and how Manchester City’s Champions League campaign could be in jeopardy.
Manchester City certainly has the luxury of being able to boast a deep squad at several positions, especially in the midfield. Players like Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Yaya Toure and David Silva all provide plenty of quality.
However, at the forward position, Guardiola began to truly lean on Gabriel Jesus’ abilities and strong form.
Particularly in FA Cup and Champions League matches, young attackers like Leroy Sane and Kelechi Iheanacho will be expected to produce positive results.
Added pressure on Aguero
Argentine international Sergio Aguero is a world-class talent but is in the midst of a crossroads in his career. Relegated to the bench for several recent matches and with a possible summer transfer rumored, Aguero will be counted on once again to produce for City with Jesus injured.
His hat-trick against Romania’s Steaua Bucuresti in the Champions League play-off round was brilliant and displayed Aguero’s capability to completely take over a match. Monaco will undoubtedly provide a greater test, but Jesus’ absence will push Aguero back into the spotlight.
City may lose an in-form striker for the Champions League Round of 16, but still, have immense talent at the top of their line-up.
Premier League fatigue
Gabriel Jesus’ injury also puts a damper on plans for the UEFA Champions League for Guardiola because of necessary squad rotation around fixtures in the Premier League.
City still has massive upcoming matches in their domestic league against Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea within the next two months. The club will certainly miss Jesus’ production on the field and may feel the effects of non-stop play across competitions.
Hope remains that Gabriel Jesus will return to Manchester City before the end of the Champions League campaign. A key element will be if the club is still in the tournament by the time he is back.