Gabriel Jesus believes his “time has come” at Manchester City, with the stage set for him to become a leading man at the Etihad Stadium as Sergio Aguero is “not young anymore”.
The Brazil international has been forced to bide his time in his bid to become an attacking focal point under Pep Guardiola.
His potential has never been in question, but at 22 years of age he remains a rough diamond in need of a little polishing.
An opportunity to prove that he can be the next prolific presence for City has presented itself during an injury-enforced absence for club-record goalscorer Aguero.
Jesus has recorded six efforts across as many appearances since his 31-year-old striking rival was laid low, with the South American determined to nail down a regular role.
He told the Sun: “In the first season when I came, I played a lot. I came here to play, play, play.
“After that year sometimes it was him and not me. I know Sergio is a legend, top scorer of club, top man, top guy. I like him as a player and a person.
“I know Sergio can score every game because of his quality and experience — and every time he plays I want him to score, obviously, so I wait and I wait.
“I want to play every game but the reality is not like that. We have a lot of players, top players. I do try to enjoy it when I am on the pitch.
“But I know Sergio is not young any more like me, and now I think my time has come. This is my time.
“I just want to play football and to improve. That’s what makes me happy — that’s what I love.
“If I am not playing football I don’t know what I would do.
“It’s always difficult when you don’t play but I know I won’t be in every time, and I respect the manager’s decision and respect my friend Sergio because he’s a legend of the club.
“And I definitely don’t think about being the best in the world, I just want to play and score and then the rest comes anyway.”
Jesus added on the healthy competition he enjoys with Aguero: “Sergio has helped me so much, not just in the conversations we have but with his actions in training.
“When I am going to play he talks to me a lot about the game, about openings, about defenders and keepers. We have a very good relationship.”
City will be hoping to see Jesus thrive over the coming weeks, while also welcoming Aguero back into the fold, with uncharacteristic struggles for consistency in 2019-20 leaving the defending Premier League champions 11 points off the title pace.
They clawed back a similar deficit last season to take the crown, with nobody at the Etihad throwing in the towel just yet.
Jesus said: “Last season was so difficult and this time even more so.
“We have to try and win every one and it doesn’t just depend on us, but it can happen.”
City will be back in action on Friday when they take in a trip to Wolves.