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Gab's superb summer gives bright outlook.

Byline: STUART BRENNAN stuart.brennan@men-news.co.uk @StuBrennanMEN

GABRIEL Jesus did his best to join in the Premier League title celebrations on that fateful final day at Brighton.

But behind the beaming smile lay doubt and an element of frustration.

He had watched the entire match from the bench as City momentarily gave rivals Liverpool a glimmer of hope by going a goal behind, before storming to a 4-1 win and consecutive titles.

Jesus is very much the team player. It is a prime reason Pep Guardiola brought him in from Palmeiras.

But as a striker, and the Brazil number nine at that, sitting on the bench does not further your career.

And the contrast between being a spectator at the Amex Stadium, and his starring role at Southampton a year earlier - when he scored the late, dramatic, delicate winner which sealed the historic 100-point total, was marked.

The transfer rumour mill was already cranking into action as Jesus was forced to play second fiddle to Sergio Aguero, in brilliant form.

In the seven Premier League and Champions League games leading up to Brighton, Jesus had stayed on the bench for two, and averaged 13 minutes of action in the other five.

He had been marginalised, not by his own lack of ability or even a drop in form, but simply because Aguero was undroppable.

The Argentina ace still has two more years on his contract, and Jesus appeared to be tasked with moving the unmovable.

But events in the 56 days after the win at Brighton have transformed Jesus and should send him into the 2019/20 season as a player renewed and revitalised.

Firstly came a good piece of management from Guardiola, who must have been tempted - with another historic moment beckoning - to simply play his strongest team in the FA Cup final.

Guardiola selflessness pitch, and shared by Instead, he dropped Aguero coach Stuart to the bench and played Jesus, and was rewarded with an all-action display which brought him two goals and an assist in the 6-0 walloping of Watford.

Guardiola loves Jesus' selflessness on the pitch, and that view is shared by Brazil coach Tite.

He refused to listen to the clamour of voices within his country for Jesus to be dropped, simply because he had not scored at last season's World Cup.

Any player who wears the Brazil number nine of Ronaldo, Tostao and Careca needs to score at big tournaments.

For Tite, Jesus' all-round contribution was more important, and like all good coaches he trusted his own judgment ahead of the howling mob.

In fact, apart from Philippe Coutinho, Tite has picked Jesus to start more games than any other player, since getting the job in 2016.

The coach has defended Jesus loves Jesus' against the critics, saying: "I am very happy with the growth of Gabriel - his comeback, his confidence.

on the that view is Brazil Tite Brennan "His precision as a finisher is more accurate, he is smiling, his mood is better."

Tite also dared to play Jesus in the wide position he often occupied at Palmeiras, and to good effect, as he linked up well with Liverpool rival Roberto Firmino and bagged important goals in the semi-final and final.

That will have been noted by Guardiola, a manager for whom there is no such thing as too many options.

With Benjamin Mendy hopefully fit to return early in the next campaign, the prospect of teaming up with Aguero in a 3-5-2 is also a bright one for the Brazilian.

Jesus will return to City at the end of July as a South American champion, and with a tenth major title under his belt at the age of 22.

The clouds which briefly gathered at the end of last season have lifted and his outlook is sunny once again.

been Jesus Guardiola loves Jesus' selflessness on the pitch, and that view is shared by Brazil coach Tite Stuart Brennan

CAPTION(S):

Jesus has been in fine form during Brazil's Copa America success

Gabriel Jesus produced a brilliant performance in City's FA Cup Final victory
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Jul 11, 2019
Words:684
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