Gabriel Jesus has confirmed his ‘secret agent’ role in convincing his ‘brother’ Oleksandr Zinchenko to join Arsenal.
Both players left Manchester City to join Arsenal last summer, but Jesus was the first to make the move before Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu went to Zinchenko’s house to discuss the transfer.
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Speaking about his role in the deal for the first time, Jesus said on Tuesday: “I was in Manchester, at home with my family and I was supposed to come to London the next day and drive.
“Edo texted me and told me they were going to Zain’s house, if I wanted to join them to talk to Zain then I would come by plane. So I say ‘ok’. I went there and spoke to him, he was surprised.
“If I helped him a little bit he made the decision to come. I’m happy because I love him as a player, as a person. I treat him like a brother and I’m very happy that he came. He’s playing well, he’s playing all the time.” Time and more than that he is very happy so I am happy for him.
I just said: Zeina, you have to make a decision like I did and I am happy about that. He was a little like, “I don’t know, I need to talk to my wife first,” but he made the decision [to come]. “I think if you ask him, it was the right decision.”
When asked about Zinchenko’s description of him as a “secret agent”, Jesus replied: “Yes, he can give me some percentage.” [of the money]!
Jesus was speaking ahead of Arsenal’s first Champions League appearance in six years as they prepare to face PSV Eindhoven at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.
The 26-year-old has regular experience of competing from his time at City, but revealed that his enthusiasm for taking part dates back to his childhood.
He said: “I remember the times when I would watch soap operas at home, and the times when I would miss school to watch them, and my mother would go crazy.”
“It starts from there, you know. It was different hearing the music, or seeing the best clubs. Maybe that’s why. All the leagues, the best clubs go. I think that helps a lot, so it’s a different game.” It’s a different competition, the clubs that win the league qualify for the Champions League, they have more quality and that’s what makes this special.
“I was going to school and then at half-time – in Brazil it goes like this, we spend three hours and then we stop to eat – at this break, I came home to watch the match. When my mum got home, I was late, and I was supposed to I’m already home but now she knows that of course.
“Kids: Don’t do that, it’s not good. But at that time, I really enjoy watching the Champions League.”
Jesus also insisted he had put his knee problems behind him after undergoing surgery twice in nine months, the first carried out in December after sustaining an injury while playing for Brazil at the World Cup in Qatar.
This surgery kept him out of the field for three months, then he underwent a second surgery in August after he felt discomfort in the same knee, but he returned three weeks later when Arsenal tied with Fulham.
“My knee is better now,” he said. “It was just unlucky. I had to do it.” [surgery]. Now I’m getting better, now my knee is perfect. Now there is more rhythm. I will work on it.”
Arteta confirmed that Gabriel Martinelli will miss the match against PSV Eindhoven due to a hamstring problem and remains a doubt for Sunday’s north London derby against Tottenham.