Gabriel Jesus has set his sights on emulating childhood hero Thierry Henry after Arsenal signed the Manchester City striker on Monday for around £45m.
Jesus, who scored 95 goals in 236 appearances for City, signed a “long-term contract” with Arsenal after he decided to leave the Premier League champions in search of more regular first-team play.
The Brazilian international has revealed that he was a huge Arsenal fan as a youngster, having been charmed by Henry during the French star’s successful performance in north London.
Now Jesus will follow in Henry’s footsteps and become Arsenal’s main offensive player.
“I followed Arsenal when I was young because of Henry,” said Jesus.
“Of course, I didn’t follow many European teams, but when I saw some of the players who played here, I thought: “Wow, this club is big.”
“I am so happy to sign with this great club. From the first day I realized that I could play for Arsenal, I was happy.
“I know the staff, I know some players, Brazilian. I know there are a lot of top players.”
Jesus was expected to fall in City’s pecking order if he stayed for the final year of his contract, as the champions bolstered their striking ability by signing Erling Haaland and Julián Alvarez.
He reunited with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, who was Pep Guardiola’s assistant at City before he took over the Emirates Stadium.
“He helped me a lot”
“I am very happy. The club has done a tremendous job to recruit a player of this magnitude,” said Arteta.
“I personally know Gabriel very well and we all know him well from the time he was in the Premier League and really made it here.
“This position has been on our radar for a long time and we managed to get the player we all wanted, so I’m very happy.”
While acknowledging that Arteta’s presence at the Emirates influenced his decision to join the Gunners, Jesus said: “We’ve talked several times about the club, the players, the project and the future.
“I believe in Mikel 100 percent. I had a very good time with him before, he is a very nice guy and a very good coach.
“He helped me a lot. We always stuck together after training and finished something.
“He’s a very smart guy and was an amazing player, so if he knows something he can teach me or the younger players.”
Over the past six months, Arsenal have allowed senior strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette to leave the club for free.
Despite Eddie Nketiah signing a new five-year deal, Jesus is expected to lead the line for Arteta’s men as the Gunners look to end their six-year absence from the Champions League.
The 25-year-old has won four Premier League titles among eight major honors during his tenure at City since joining them in January 2017.
Arsenal have already strengthened Arteta’s squad by signing Portuguese midfielder Fabio Vieira, Brazilian youth striker Marquinhos and American goalkeeper Matt Turner.
© Agence France-Presse