Jesus in race to prove he can be Aguero's successor at Man City

The Brazilian got both goals in the 2-1 victory over Everton to boost his hopes of convincing Pep Guardiola he can be the club’s next great striker

The countdown has begun to the end of Sergio Aguero’s time at Manchester City and now the race is on to find his replacement.

No player in the Premier League today has scored more goals than the Argentine (174) but the striker’s contract at the Etihad Stadium will be up in 18 months. Finding a straight replacement will be a tough, if not impossible task.

Pep Guardiola says Aguero is “irreplaceable”, not least because he was at the centre of the club’s greatest ever moment when he scored that unforgettable winner against QPR to clinch the title in the dying seconds of the 2011-12 season.

However, Gabriel Jesus has the ability to fill the considerable void the 31-year-old will inevitably leave behind.

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Right now, the Brazilian is a man under pressure, with rumours rife that City are considering signing a new striker in the summer, but by bagging both goals in Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over Everton, Jesus issued a timely reminder of his credentials to lead the champions’ attack.

“What he has shown so far in the period he’s here – he’s had ups and downs – [but] with his age and the injuries he’s had, he was excellent,” Guardiola enthused.

“He can do perfectly this season with Sergio or without Sergio but Sergio’s irreplaceable for what he means to our fans, what he’s done in this club, for the best moment in the history of this club, an unforgettable moment against QPR, so it’s difficult.

“Every year is one season more for Sergio and we have a lot of games so we need good back-ups for all the players and Sergio has an excellent complement with Gabriel.”

Jesus has certainly demonstrated plenty of times during his three years in England that he has the potential to become Guardiola’s main man, but he now has just 18 months to prove he is ready to make a permanent step up and become City’s superstar striker.

He’s undeniably started this season well. From 25 appearances – 16 of them starts – he’s been involved in 19 goals, scoring 13, with six assists.

Jesus was particularly impressive against Everton, securing a vital win for City during a draining Christmas schedule by burying two clear-cut chances.

His 51st-minute opener was a clever right-footed shot that curled into the top-right corner just out of Jordan Pickford’s reach.

The second came from a sweeping City move, Jesus finding space on Yerry Mina’s blindside and smashing a low drive into the bottom left-hand corner.

His only disappointment was failing to claim a hat-trick. It could have been a perfect one if he had made a better connection with a header from a Riyad Mahrez cross.

But the 22-year-old missed an even better chanced when he slammed a shot against the post, with Pickford showing him plenty of the goal to aim at.

And perhaps that is presently the major difference between Jesus and Aguero: the Buenos Aires native would have claimed a treble. After all, nobody has scored more Premier League hat-tricks than Aguero (11, level with Alan Shearer).

However, Guardiola is prepared to give Jesus time to develop his killer instinct.

“He’s young; we cannot forget it,” the Catalan coach pointed out. “He’s a guy from Brazil and a young, young lad.

“Of course, he has to improve and he knows it, we spoke together about what he has to do. Every day he is better and better.”

Jesus has been an excellent understudy for Aguero. However, now it’s time for him to prove he can be City’s leading man. His performance on New Year’s Day made for a promising opening act.

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