Arsenal forward Gabriel Jesus has hinted at frustration over his role in the team so far this season, having been asked to play wide on several occasions.
Jesus started on the left wing against both Tottenham and Bournemouth, before then being used on the right for the victory against former club Manchester City.
With injury having delayed his start to the season, he is yet to begin a Premier League game in the number nine role – although he has started both Champions League matches up front.
Even though he made his name with Palmeiras as a central striker, Jesus was primarily asked to play on the wing after he moved to England in January 2017. A desire to play a different way motivated him to seek a new challenge, with the final straw seemingly a Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain in November 2021 when Pep Guardiola favoured Oleksandr Zinchenko as a false nine.
Jesus later admitted to skipping the pre-match meal because he was in his room crying and on the phone to his mother. He still came off the bench to score and assist in a comeback 2-1 win, but wasn’t even named on the bench for the next Champions League game against RB Leipzig.
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Upon joining Arsenal for £45m in 2022, the Brazilian had the chance to consistently start as the central striker. That was even part of the club’s pitch to him before he signed.
“When I chose to transfer from City to Arsenal, Edu [Gaspar] and [Mikel] Arteta spoke to me, and I made it clear that I would like to play as a ‘nine’,” he explained on international duty.
“This was Arsenal’s idea, for me to play as a nine, loose. This season has been different, we have had injuries, and in the last three games, I played on the wing. For a while, I thought about saying that I want to play as a nine, but I’m here to help the team. I am blessed by God to have this talent and the versatility to play in the three front positions. I prefer not to choose.”
With Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard all missing games, Jesus’ versatility has been required and Eddie Nketiah has had the chance through the middle.
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