Mikel Arteta has attempted to downplay Gabriel Jesus’ claim that he could be in contention to make his Arsenal comeback in just over a months’ time.
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The Brazil international made a stunning impact following his summer transfer from Manchester City and had a galvanising effect on an attack that powered the Gunners to the top of the table prior to the World Cup.
Jesus’ campaign has been interrupted by the knee injury he suffered in Qatar but has been rapidly making his way back towards full fitness after undergoing surgery last month.
The 25-year-old was in attendance on Sunday as Arteta’s side took another step towards a first Premier League title in 20 years by securing a memorable last-minute win over Manchester United.
During the half-time break, Jesus met with former UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov who posted a conversation on social media in which the former City star claimed he could be back sooner than anticipated.
Responding to those reports ahead of Friday’s FA Cup fourth round tie against his old club, Arteta said: ‘With him I don’t know. With him he wants to be here next week but it’s totally unrealistic.
‘He’s pushing and driving everyone to the limits. I cannot give you an answer. Hopefully it will be weeks and not months but it was a serious injury and we need to respect that process as well.’
Jesus made his way onto the pitch at full-time on Sunday to celebrate with his teammates and matchwinner Eddie Nketiah in particular.
On Jesus’ influence behind the scenes, Arteta added: ‘He’s been incredible with the boys, the staff and everyone around it.
‘His energy and how positive he is to the boys. He’s always giving advice next to them he doesn’t want to be in the front line he’s been terrific.’
Such has been the form of Nketiah, however, that Jesus may not be guaranteed to return to the starting XI by the time his rehabilitation process is complete.
On the form of a striker now being touted as a possible member of Gareth Southgate’s next England squad, Arteta said: ‘He’s been very consistent I think he has surprised a lot of people the way he has responded to the huge challenge and the demands he had after Gabi got injured.
‘But we are positive he can still get much better and continue to evolve.’
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