Gabriel Jesus has revealed that a telephone call from Pep Guardiola helped convince him to sign for Manchester City.
Jesus, 19, signed a five-year deal with the Premier League leaders in August but will remain with Palmeiras until the end of the Brazilian season in December, with the club currently a point clear at the top of the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A table.
The forward also reportedly attracted interest from Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, but he says the opportunity to work with City boss Guardiola is what convinced him to opt for a move to the Etihad Stadium.
“It was a complicated decision, but in the end my desire to learn won,” he told The Guardian.
“The presence of Guardiola as a manager at City and the fact that it is a great club were very important factors in my final decision.
“Guardiola’s phone call was a huge part of me deciding to go there. It made me realise that I’d love to work with him. I don’t know him personally yet but he already made me feel very safe about his project there.”
Sources have said that the City hierarchy have very high hopes for Jesus and believe he has the potential to become one of the best players in the world.
He cost a reported £27 million — making him one of the most expensive teenagers in history — but has already shown he can carry the weight of expectation by helping Brazil to Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro last month.
Jesus is aware, however, that it will not be easy when he joins up with City as he faces a battle for a place in Guardiola’s starting lineup.
“I think I will fight for a place as a winger in the team,” he added. “I actually prefer playing as a left winger rather than a striker, but I just want to be very clear that I’m willing to play in either position.
“I am often prepared to give up a position high on the pitch and help out defensively because some good marking and tackling can result in a goal for my team in the end. I’d like to think that I’m a versatile player.”
The Sao Paulo-born attacker is looking forward to the challenge at City and says he is ready to work under Guardiola.
“My life has always been full of challenges,” he added. “Obviously this is a bigger one, but the best battles are given to the best warriors. I will listen to the manager’s opinion and his advice in order to improve and adapt as fast as I possibly can.”