By Peter Hall
MANCHESTER (Reuters) - Gabriel Jesus showed that he could become Sergio Aguero’s long-term successor after he scored twice to inspire a nervy Manchester City to victory over Everton in the Premier League on Wednesday.
Aguero gave City their finest moment -- the spectacular last-gasp winner against Queens Park Rangers in 2012 that earned the club the most dramatic of Premier League titles -- but their all-time top goalscorer cannot go on forever.
The 31-year-old has long stated his desire to return to his native Argentina to finish his career, and he may elect to say farewell to English football when his current deal ends in 2021.
Replacing a fan favourite who has been so pivotal to everything that City have achieved in recent years was never going to be easy, but Brazilian Jesus has so far performed impressively.
The 22-year-old joined in January 2017 and even though his game-time has been limited due to Aguero's form, Jesus has shown remarkable consistency.
Jesus has been directly involved in 69 goals in his 75 starts for Manchester City in all competitions, scoring 53 and assisting 16.
Against Everton on New Year’s Day, with Aguero on the bench, City struggled to create any real openings in the first half as they attempted to not fall further behind leaders Liverpool.
Jesus, though, was presented with a difficult chance early in the second half, but finished with aplomb, right on cue for City.
Seven minutes later and Jesus had again found the net, stepping up when his team needed him most.
His ability to find the target, despite being in and out of the team is notable. Among the players who have played more than 10 Premier League games this season, Jesus leads the way in shots on target per 90 minutes, ahead of Aguero.
“He is young, we cannot forget, but the way he defends and fights is incredible,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “Of course he has to improve, he knows it. Every day though, he is better and better.”
Having previously reiterated his desire to learn from City’s cult hero, an Aguero-trained Jesus could be a City force for years to come.
(Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Pritha Sarkar)