At the root of this report is a question to which we don’t know the answer: How highly does Pep Guardiola rate Gabriel Jesus?
A report from Spanish outlet AS says Guardiola could use his young striker to lure Atletico Madrid into a swap deal, landing Manchester City their stirring defensive midfielder Rodri.
[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]
Rodri is a nearly year older than 22-year-old Jesus, and is more instrumental to his current club. One of Atletico Madrid’s top talents, his $78 million release clause is an obvious route for City.
If Guardiola doesn’t see Jesus as a huge part of the club’s future, however, the manager may be able to go nearly like-for-like money-wise.
Jesus scored nearly every other game for City in all competitions, nabbing 21 goals in 47 matches, and has 13 goals in 27 caps for Brazil. Those are good numbers, especially with still-electric Sergio Aguero turning 31 this summer.
At his relatively tender age, Jesus has appeared 100 times for Man City and his 45 goals are made more impressive by less than 5600 total minutes in those matches.
Giving up on him to complete his midfield is a tough one. We think it’s more likely Guardiola pays the release clause… unless the manager simply doesn’t rate the player.
Pep Guardiola laughed off speculation that Manchester City would step in front of Barcelona to buy Antoine Griezmann, but the Premier League champions may have another Atletico Madrid man in mind.
According to Spanish outlet AS, Guardiola has already approached Atleti midfielder Rodrigo “Rodri” Hernandez about making the move to Manchester. The 22-year-old center mid could be a long-term replacement for Fernandinho.
[ MORE: Dybala to leave Juve ]
He’d also cost around $78 million via release clause, so the price is set if Guardiola can convince Rodri to come to England. From AS.com:
Having spoken to Rodri to outline his plans for him and the team, City coach Pep Guardiola has been key to selling the club to the player. Indeed, working with Guardiola is a major lure for the ex-Villarreal man: he feels Pep’s footballing philosophy fits his playing style better than Atlético boss Diego Simeone’s.
Simeone is said by AS to view Rodri as good but not irreplaceable. Removing goal scorers and playmakers, he was the highest-ranked player in La Liga last season according to advanced stats site WhoScored.