Football News

Gabriel Jesus joins Arsenal: Gunners confirm signing of Premier League’s best fox in the box

By Harry Edwards

Published: 8:35, 4 July 2022

Arsenal have completed the signing of Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City for a reported £45m.

The Gunners have been in search for a new striker this summer after selling Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona in January and allowing Alexandre Lacazette’s contract to run out with no new deal being agreed – the Frenchman has now signed for Lyon.

Jesus has been Arsenal’s main target as early as the January transfer window after they missed out on the signing of Dusan Vlahovic, with the Brazilian having been shifted to a wider role at Man City.

In his final season at Man City, Jesus played 1,878 minutes in the Premier League, 864 of which came on the right wing – with 891 through the middle – and ended the campaign with eight goals, four of which did come in one game against Watford.

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But Arsenal fans should not be put off by Jesus’ lack of goals, as he played a more unselfish role in Pep Guardiola’s system, also adding eight assists with only Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling directly involved in more goals at Man City. Bukayo Saka (11 goals, seven assists) was the only Arsenal player to be directly involved in more Premier League goals last season than Jesus’ 16.

Adding Jesus’ 16 to Saka’s 18, Gabriel Martinelli’s 12 (six goals, six assists) and Emile Smith Rowe’s 12 (10 goals, two assists) gives Arsenal an interesting fluid attack for the 2022/23 campaign – not to mention a man that is dangerous inside the box.

Since making his debut in January 2017, Jesus has scored 58 goals in the Premier League, all of which have come from inside the penalty area. In the 2021/22 campaign, Jesus overtook Tim Cahill (56) as the player with the most Premier League goals scored from exclusively inside the penalty area, a true fox in the box.

Furthermore, those 58 goals have come at an average of 0.53 per 90 minutes, the eighth-best among Premier League players with at least 3,300 minutes since his debut. But he’s not just a goalscorer, with 29 assists from 151 chances created, 28 of which were Big Chances, and 196/319 dribbles completed.

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But Jesus’ time was clearly running out at Man City and Guardiola was more than happy to let the Brazilian move on, especially with the two new attacking arrivals at the Etihad this summer.

As everybody is well aware, Man City have made arguably the biggest move of the summer in signing Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund to spearhead their attack. But they are also set to welcome exciting Argentine striker Julian Alvarez into their first team squad, signed in January and loaned back to River Plate.

And Arsenal technical director Edu admitted Jesus is a player the club had been looking at for a long time.

“We are delighted that we have secured the transfer of Gabriel. Everyone who knows football well, knows the qualities of Gabriel Jesus,” he told Arsenal’s official website.

“Gabriel is a player who we have admired for a long time now. He is 25 years old and an established Brazil international who has consistently demonstrated that he is a player at a very high level. We look forward to seeing him join up with his new teammates ahead of the new season. We all welcome Gabriel to Arsenal.”

“I’m very excited. The club has done a tremendous job to recruit a player of this stature,” Mikel Arteta added.

“I know Gabriel personally very well, and we all know him well from his time in the Premier League and being really successful here.

“This is a position that’s been on our radar for a long time now and we have managed to get a player that we all wanted, so I’m really happy.”

Jesus has been confirmed as the club’s new No.9, the number formerly worn by Lacazette, and will be looking to go straight into the starting XI after years of Pep Roulette at Man City – with Eddie Nketiah his only real competition for the striking role at Arsenal.

Nketiah recently signed a new deal and was given the iconic No.14 shirt at Arsenal, made legendary at the club by Thierry Henry. And the Frenchman appears to have played a part in Jesus wanting to sign for Arsenal.

“I followed Arsenal when I was young because of Henry,” he told Arsenal’s website.

“Obviously I didn’t follow too many European teams but when I saw some of the players that played here, I was like ‘wow, this club is big’. When I played against Arsenal I was looking at the Emirates and it was a very good stadium, so I’m very excited to play here.

“I’m so happy to sign for this big club. Since day one when I knew I could come to play for Arsenal, I was happy. I know the staff, I know some players, the Brazilian ones. I know there are a lot of top players. They are young and I’m still young as well, so I am so happy to be here to help. I come to help, to learn as well and to try to do my best.”

Arsenal’s new striker also released a small message on Instagram, saying: “Thanks Man City and all the people who made this club my life for all these years. Time to live a new dream!”