Guardiola backs courageous Jesus and talks up Douglas Luiz

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Pep Guardiola is confident Gabriel Jesus will bounce back from World Cup disappointment at Manchester City and is ready to offer another Brazilian a surprise first-team chance.

Jesus has signed a five-year contract extension at the Etihad Stadium, committing him to the Premier League champions until 2023.

But the 21-year-old striker came in for criticism in his homeland after five goalless appearances at Russia 2018 as Tite’s side bowed out against Belgium at the quarter-final stage – a 2-1 defeat that began with City colleague Fernandinho scoring an own goal.

“It was a problem for Brazil and the media from there. They know how important they are, they know how we love them,” Guardiola told a news conference ahead of the Community Shield meeting with Chelsea.

“I feel they are so comfortable here. If that was not the case then Fernandinho last season would not have extended the contract, and now Gabriel.

“I think the strategy from the club is perfect. We cannot allow Gabriel to go out for another club because he is so young. His heart, his courage, his fight to put in every effort for the team is incredible.

“I never met one striker who fights like he does for the team. He always wants to know what he can do better and that is fantastic.”

The future of one of Jesus’ more unheralded countrymen, Douglas Luiz, was also on the agenda ahead of Sunday’s trip to Wembley

The 20-year-old midfielder joined from Vasco da Gama for £10million last year before spending the season on loan with Girona in LaLiga.

Fourteen of his 15 appearances in Spain’s top flight came off the bench but his displays during pre-season have convinced Guardiola that Douglas Luiz could provide the extra midfield body denied him when prime target Jorginho opted to join Chelsea and his former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri.

However, the youngster is yet to be granted a work permit to play in England and is ineligible to feature at the national stadium, with City currently working to remedy the situation.

“We would like [to keep Douglas Luiz] but he does not have a visa or a work permit yet,” Guardiola explained. “We are going to try and convince the federation or the guys who decide the work permit to allow him to stay because I think he has potential to play and improve with us.

“We saw it in pre-season against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. He played against them on a good level.

“It does not depend on him or us – the club want him and he wants stay, but it depends on the work permit. If we did not believe he has the potential to play with us we would not ask.”

Guardiola did not entirely rule out adding another player before the transfer window closes next week but maintains any new recruit must be of exceptional quality.

“We will see,” he added. “If, at the end, we decide to bring in another one it will be because they can be a special player for the future, not to have one more player for the numbers.

“I am so satisfied with the squad we have. Now, from Monday we will be all together thinking what we have to do this season to maintain the level of last season.”





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