Gabriel Jesus has said he is frustrated by his lack of game time at Manchester City, but in a “good way.”
The Brazil international is battling Sergio Aguero for a place in the Premier League champions’ lineup and, with his teammate having an outstanding season that has seen him tipped as a potential Player of the Year winner, Gabriel has started fewer than half of City’s matches.
The 22-year-old came off the bench to score a late goal in the 3-1 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday and said he is driven to force his way into Pep Guardiola’s plans on a more regular basis.
“I want to play — I always want to play,” he told ESPN Brasil. “Of course it frustrates me but in a good way — it makes me want to train and work hard.
“When I play, I want to help the team as best I can. I have always made it very clear that I always want to be with the team. If I’m coming on late or in the second half, I will still be happy enough to come on and help. [Against Palace] I came on, I helped a bit and I’m really happy about this.”
The victory keeps City’s hopes of retaining the Premier League title in their own hands but they faced a nervy 10 minutes when Palace pulled the game back to 2-1 before Gabriel’s late strike — his 19th of the season.
“I’m happy to get on and help my team with a goal,” he added. “Unfortunately, their goal came from losing the ball in the middle of the pitch. I’m happy with the victory and the team’s performance.
“The players were great on the pitch, stopping their counterattacks — they have good players, who are very quick. We were able to control the ball and create chances.”
Despite the win — City’s ninth successive victory in the league — they remain two points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.
Captain Vincent Kompany is determined to win a fourth winners’ medal and said he is drawing on the experiences of his first two title successes, which were both claimed on the final day of the season.
“I don’t really compare this season to last as there is not much to compare it with other than our performance levels being near enough equal to those of last season,” he told reporters. “There are more comparisons in terms of the pressure at this time of the season with the two titles we won prior to that.
“Having to win, having to perform, us getting a chance at it, then Liverpool getting a chance at it — that back and forth, back and forth. That’s what I am drawing my experience on.
“It’s a time of the season where you can still stay very calm and just prepare well, and trust yourself to do the job.”