MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Feb 17 – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola warned on Friday that teen sensation Gabriel Jesus could be out of action for up to three months and might not play again until next season.
The 19-year-old Brazil striker, who has scored three goals in five games since joining City in the January transfer window, broke a bone in his foot during City’s 2-0 win away to Bournemouth in the Premier League on Monday.
“He’s coming back when he is fit,” Guardiola told a news conference on Friday. “I don’t know if it will be the end of this season or next season… His recovery is between two and three months.”
City paid Brazilian club Palmeiras an initial £27 million ($33 million, 31 million euros) for Jesus.
The striker scored at West Ham United and twice against Swansea City and Jesus was hoping to become the third City player — after Emmanuel Adebayor and Kevin De Bruyne — to score on each of his first three Premier League starts.
But he lasted just 15 minutes at south-coast side Bournemouth’s Dean Court ground before going off injured.
Jesus had an operation on the damaged metatarsal in Barcelona on Thursday, and is expected to spend some of his recovery time back home in Sao Paulo.
There remains a chance he could return before the end of the current campaign, but Guardiola made it clear he will not rush the forward back into first-team action.
“So last night, there was an operation,” Guardiola said Friday. “It was good, really good. The important thing is a good recovery.
“He’s coming back when he is fit. I don’t know if it will be the end of this season or next season. Now we’re giving all our support to him and his family and waiting for him to come back.”
Asked if that meant there was a chance that Jesus would not be back this season, Guardiola added: “I don’t know. His recovery is between two and three months.”
– ‘Aguero quality’ –
Jesus’s injury means Sergio Aguero is set to be pushed into the central attacking role when City welcome Monaco to Eastlands in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.
Aguero has been left out of the starting line-up for City’s last three league matches, which has cast doubt on his long-term future at the club, even though he has a contract until 2020.
Guardiola said a week ago he wanted the Argentina international to stay, but also indicated there was no guarantee that would happen.
The City manager, however, has been impressed with the way Aguero has pushed to get back into the starting line-up since being dropped.
“From the beginning of the season, not just in these three games, Sergio has always played more than well,” said Guardiola.
“He showed that when he came on against Swansea, or against Bournemouth after the injury to Gabriel,” the Spanish manager explained.
“He came in and played well, and was involved in the second goal. I don’t have doubts about his quality, because it was always there.”
Before the Monaco match, City travel to Championship promotion contenders Huddersfield Town in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday.
Guardiola is expected to rest several key players to keep them fresh for Champions League action, but remained quiet on whether Claudio Bravo would get a recall in goal.
Bravo was dropped in favour of Willy Caballero last month after a poor run of form, but asked who would be his goalkeeper at the John Smith’s Stadium, the manager said: “I am going to decide tomorrow.”