Rewind to the summer of 2008. Manchester City were fresh from a takeover which would completely change the landscape in English football and transform the club, resulting in just about all of the world’s best players being linked with a transfer to the Etihad Stadium at some point in the following eight-and-a-half years.
That summer transfer window was particularly exciting for City, as the club embraced their new wealth and really looked to bring the players that would take them to the next level, chief of which was Robinho, who joined to much fanfare on ‘Transfer Deadline Day’. The cringe-factor provided on Sky Sports News that night by supporters clamouring to get their grotesque little faces on TV for five seconds reached an unprecedented high.
And Robinho undoubtedly had an impact, with his arrival from Real Madrid for £32million helping to establish the new owners’ ambitions and successfully whipping City fans into frenzy. But despite a solid first season, which saw him net 14 Premier League goals, the good feeling didn’t last.
Injuries and continued inconsistency affected him massively in his second season and by January 28 2010 he was out of the door, never to play for City again. And while he has gone on to play 99 times for Brazil, there’s no doubt that he has never reached the level many expected him to.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 19, 2017
Back to present day, and City fans will have awaken to read news of the club confirming the arrival and registration of Gabriel Jesus (pronounced Gab-ri-ell Jay-Zeus, for those lost in the sea of endless possibilities created by cultural differences), the Brazilian teenager from Palmeiras whom they secured a £27m deal for in August.
The comparisons with Robinho are obvious; technically brilliant, fast, he has an eye for goal. And, you know, he’s Brazilian. Though, perhaps what Jesus has over his elder is work ethic, something often missing from Robinho’s repertoire.
Chances are Gabriel Jesus will be a success at City, however, his first challenge will be to shake off the ‘fraud’ tag I’ve just given him.
— Sixthmoomins (@Danny_McMoomins) January 19, 2017
But Robinho’s stay and subsequent plight at the club should serve as a warning to Jesus. The former’s move to City came when he was already quite experienced; a key player for Brazil and a veteran of 135 appearances for Real Madrid, yet in the end he failed.
While Robinho’s first season at City was solid, he did have trouble remaining consistent and was often criticised for going missing in bigger matches. And in his second campaign, he failed to rally himself after injury and appeared to go into his shell, as the increasing talent pool at the club threatened to consume him.
It will not be all plain-sailing for Jesus at City either, and he will go through periods of time when he isn’t playing as much as he would like, therefore robbing him of consistency. But he can learn from Robinho’s struggles – embracing any trials and tribulations that come his way, and not jumping ship when things get tough.
Anyone who had the pleasure of seeing Jesus wear the Palmeiras jersey can attest to his prodigious talent; he is, without question, good enough to play in the Premier League. He has the raw skill of Neymar, the pace of Anthony Martial and hard-working nature of Fernandinho. And 21 goals in 46 appearances last season certainly isn’t a figure to be sniffed at, especially for someone who only turned 19 in April.
136 – Gabriel Jesus scored or assisted a league goal every 136 mins for Palmeiras last term as they won the Brazilian top-flight title. Key.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 19, 2017
But many-a-Brazilian player has failed to adjust to the Premier League’s tempo and physicality; sheer skill isn’t always enough. Robinho had the ability, but not the determination to truly adapt.
That will be Jesus’ biggest hurdle, but City fans can at least be encouraged by the 19-year-old’s seemingly swift settling in Manchester, with his exploits across social media channels giving a good insight to his nature and attitude.