Arsenal sweat on Gabriel Jesus injury as Tite hits out at 'lies'

Arsenal dealt major blow as Gabriel Jesus ruled out until March - GETTY IMAGES
Arsenal dealt major blow as Gabriel Jesus ruled out until March - GETTY IMAGES

Arsenal are sweating over the seriousness of Gabriel Jesus's knee problem after Tite hit out at "evil lies" that he knew he was injured before he played against Cameroon.

Reports in Brazil suggested Jesus may now miss up to three months of action, but the national team manager expressed anger over "haters" suggesting he had taken a risk with his fitness.

Jesus picked up the injury in Brazil’s shock 1-0 defeat against Cameroon and had a scan on Saturday morning.  "We do not like hearing lies, evil lies," Tite said in response to speculation Jesus had complained of having pain in his right knee ahead of that match. "We have no time for it."

Arsenal are in contact with the Brazilian medical team and club sources have insisted it remains too early to make any definitive assessments on the extent of the striker’s injury. Tite and Juninho had also visited Arsenal before the World Cup and “at no point was anything mentioned” about Jesus having an injury, the Brazilian coaching staff explained.

"The liars, the haters out there – they should go and do something else," Tite added.  "They must stop giving out this fake news. Arsenal have a great medical department. We have a great medical department. We are responsible people and we take great responsibility with the health of our players. We never, ever take risks."

Gabriel Jesus (L) and Neymar of Brazil speak after the 0-1 loss during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group G match between Cameroon and Brazil at Lusail Stadium on December 02, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. - Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Gabriel Jesus (L) and Neymar of Brazil speak after the 0-1 loss during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group G match between Cameroon and Brazil at Lusail Stadium on December 02, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. - Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Jesus was the fifth injury worry in the Brazil squad at this tournament, but Neymar, who sprained an ankle a fortnight ago, is now hopeful of starting against South Korea.

Neymar suffered the injury in Brazil's opening 2-0 win over Serbia, which ruled him out of their 1-0 win over Switzerland and the shock defeat by Cameroon. But Tite told a news conference ahead of their last-16 match: "Neymar will train today in the afternoon and if he trains well he will play," Tite told a news conference."

Neymar has suffered many issues with his right foot and underwent surgery four years ago for a fractured metatarsal. The news of his return to the starting lineup came after Thiago Silva was asked during a news conference if Neymar would play and Tite took hold of the microphone and said "yes".

It will be warmly welcomed in a squad beset by fitness woes with Danilo also hurting his ankle against Serbia and Alex Sandro suffering a hip injury against the Swiss.

Alex Telles and Jesus were first ruled out for the rest of the tournament on Saturday. Tite said Danilo was also fit to return against South Korea on Monday but Sandro was out.

Tite stressed that Neymar's return was with the full backing of the team's medical staff and the player's physical health was the priority.

"If he plays, it's because he is in full health and ready to start, to play from the beginning and the entire game with no limitations," Tite said.

"My preference is always to play my best players from the start."

A lengthy spell on the sidelines for Jesus, meanwhile, would be a huge blow to Arsenal and their hopes of challenging Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Mikel Arteta’s side are currently five points clear at the top of the table, with Jesus having a truly transformative effect on the team since his arrival from City in the summer.

Jesus has started all 14 of Arsenal’s league matches so far and, although he has not been prolific in front of goal, his creativity and pressing has allowed his team-mates to thrive.

Arsenal try to plan their transfer business well in advance of windows opening, and had prioritised a move for a winger in January. A central midfielder is also on the agenda.

It remains to be seen whether the injury to Jesus will force Edu, the club’s technical director, to rethink his transfer plans. Without Jesus, Eddie Nketiah is the only recognised centre-forward in Arteta’s first-team squad.

Analysis: Injury to Arsenal's talisman makes title challenge almost impossible

By Sam Dean

If there is one player that Arsenal cannot afford to lose for an extended amount of time, it is Gabriel Jesus. The Brazil striker has been the most important player in Arsenal’s drive up the table this season, providing a new level of dynamism and intensity in their attack.

His return of five goals and six assists in 20 games does not begin to tell the full story of his impact. His pressing off the ball, his dribbling, his hold-up play and his vision around the box have proven to be game-changing attributes for his new side, and the other attacking players have excelled because of his selfless work up front.

If the early fears in Brazil are confirmed to be true, the pressure will be on Eddie Nketiah to step up for Arsenal. The 23-year-old impressed at the end of last season, when he had a run of games up front, and he will need to quickly rediscover that form if Jesus is unavailable.

To hold off Manchester City in a title race is an enormous ask for Arsenal, who remain a young side with a lack of depth in the first team. To do so without Jesus would make it significantly more difficult, if not impossible.