Pep Guardiola marked the fourth anniversary of Gabriel Jesus ’ arrival at Manchester City by saying the Brazil star "knows" what he has to do to improve.
The 23-year-old joined up with the Blues in January 2017 after City agreed to delay the move so he could finish a title-winning season with Palmeiras.
Since then Jesus has scored an impressive 72 goals in 166 appearances, a goals-per-game average that would be stunning in most teams.
But the fact that the bargain £27million signing is bound to have his stats – and his prowess in front of goal – held up against Sergio Aguero, who is the club’s all-time top goalscorer and still the deadliest in Premier League history.
Jesus initially dislodged Aguero from the team, his all-action, pressing style providing a template for what Guardiola wanted from all his players, including the initially reluctant Aguero.
Since then, Aguero has upped his work rate and become a far more rounded player, more like the number ten he was at Atletico Madrid – and crucially, he has maintained his scoring rate.
Jesus has been unable to match that aspect of Aguero’s game, and every time he plays faces comparisons – often unfair – with the legendary Argentine.
After all, Jesus is only a few months older now than Aguero was when he joined City in 2011.
City are already eyeing replacements for Aguero, whose contract expires in the summer, but he could earn a new deal if he makes a solid return from his current Covid isolation.
Jesus has the opportunity to grab the main striking role, but after scoring in his first three appearances this season, he has managed just one goal in his 11 games since.
Jesus put in his usual hard-working shift in the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace in midweek, but never looked like scoring.
Guardiola always makes it plain that as long as he is doing a job for the team, and creating space and opportunities for others through his movement, he is happy.
But when asked for his assessment of the striker, he hinted that he expects him to start scoring more, with City struggling to maintain their usual high scoring rate this season.
Asked for his assessment of Jesus, Guardiola said: “Surprised with many things, that we didn’t expect, you don’t know how they’ll settle.
“So he’s surprised me in many things but he’s of the right age to improve on many things. He knows what.”