Brazil defender Dani Alves has lavished praise on his international teammate Gabriel Jesus ahead of their clash with England, calling the young forward the next Ronaldo.
“I wasn’t joking when I called him the new Ronaldo,” Alves stated.
Ronaldo, also known as Il Phenom, is widely regarded as one of the finest footballers of all time. He starred at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups for Brazil, apart from banging in a bagful of goals for European giants like Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid in a glittering career.
Winning everything there was to win in world football, Ronaldo, whose full name is Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, retired from professional football in 2011. He remains Brazil’s second-highest goalscorer with 62 strikes to his name, behind only the great Pele.
“He’s already great and will get even better. For all that he’s done, all that he’s achieved, there’s no pressure. He’s doing what he loves,” the veteran fullback, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, added.
And Jesus, who plays for Premier League side Manchester City, has shown similarities from the Brazilian legend with his brilliant displays for club and country. Despite still being only 20, the Sao Paulo native has already established himself as a starter for Brazil and has scored seven times in 12 games for the Selecao.
While Ronaldo was a tall (6’0) and powerful forward, blessed with plenty of skill and pace, Jesus’s playing style is starkly different from the man who he is often compared to.
The Manchester City forward has plenty of pace too, but his shorter stature (5’9) gives him a much lower centre of gravity and his prodigious work-rate is matched only by his deadly finishing.
Considering both burst on to the footballing scene at a relatively young age, (Ronaldo at 17 and Jesus at 19), the comparisons between the duo were inevitable.
Jesus still has a long way to go of course, and glory at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia would be a good step to take, but for the moment the 20-year-old will have focus on playing against side he knows plenty about — England.
After spending the year in the English top-flight, the Brazilian forward will know how the Three Lions are likely to shape up and will be backing himself to continue his scoring streak.