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Jesus admits to being a ‘big fan’ of Real Madrid’s Vinicius

UEFA Championship

Jesus admits to being a ‘big fan’ of Real Madrid’s Vinicius


Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus said he is a “big fan” of compatriot Vinicius Junior facing the Real Madrid winger in Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg.

Jesus, who became the first Brazilian to score four goals in a Premier League match during City’s 5-1 demolition of struggling Watford on Saturday, aims to help Pep Guardiola’s men to a first Champions League title after losing last season’s final to Chelsea.

In all competitions, Jesus’ international teammate Vinicius has recorded 31 goal involvements for Real Madrid (17 goals, 14 assists) as Carlo Ancelotti’s men bid for a 14th European title.

Recalling City’s last Champions League tie with Madrid in 2019-20 last 16, in which he netted in both legs of a 4-2 aggregate triumph, Jesus said the emergence of players like Vinicius meant Tuesday’s encounter represented a different prospect.

Jesus told Marca of City’s trip to Madrid in March 2020:

“It was tough and tense, as always when you play at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid.

“We won, but they could have. I was happy to help my team, but now it will be different with other players.

“Vinicius will be playing, who was playing then but is now much more mature.

“He is the same player but is now more mature.

“I am a big fan of his. And I hope he can continue to get better and better in the future.

“So I wish him good luck, but not against me.

“It is difficult because you arrive as a young player at a club of Real Madrid’s size, you play, you have opportunities, and it doesn’t go well because of a lack of experience, of maturity.

“Criticism comes and goes. I am happy for him because of the quality he has.

“Everyone knew that he was as good as this. Football is like that, with highs and lows.

“I hope that he keeps this level up to be happy in his football.”

Vinicius has made the most 10-yard progressive carries of any player in the Champions League this season (62), and no player in the competition has been generated a shot following a carry (moving five or more metres with the ball) more often than the 21-year-old (21 – 10 shots, 11 chances created).

In their last three home Champions League matches against Los Blancos, the city is undefeated, winning one and drawing two. As a result, city boss Guardiola could become the first manager to eliminate the Spanish giants from three separate Champions League knockout ties.

Jesus, meanwhile, has been linked with a move away from the Premier League leaders after making just 17 league starts for Guardiola’s men this season.

However, the striker says he will not decide his future until the season is over, stressing the “need” for City to win a first European crown.

He added:

“I have been here for five years and a bit. When I arrived, I was very young, only 19.

“And both the club and the players have won many trophies.

“We need to win the UCL, as we were so close last year.

“I am focused on the rest of the season, on these games, which are all decisive.

“Then we will see what happens in terms of renewing my contract or ending a cycle.”

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