Gabriel Jesus returns to Premier League action following a triumphant international outing with Brazil, uncertain over his starting place in a Manchester City side that could be just two games from clinching the title.
The 20-year-old forward scored the only goal of the friendly between Brazil and world champions Germany on Tuesday, suggesting that after spending the first two months of 2018 recovering from a knee injury, he could be about to enjoy a breakout tournament at the World Cup.
Such a scenario could be a factor in the postponing of talks with City over a contract extension, part of a process that Pep Guardiola’s club has undertaken with all its key young assets of late.
Having initially seemed keen to sign an extension to a deal that, in any case, keeps Jesus with City until 2022, the player has let it be known that he wants to delay negotiations until the close season.
The official reason behind the delay is that Jesus wishes to concentrate on a club campaign that could yet see City add the Champions League to the League Cup title and the Premier League crown, which they could clinch in next weekend’s Manchester derby.
But the timing of the decision also opens up the possibility that Jesus is banking on emerging from the Russia World Cup with his reputation even higher than it currently stands.