Mikel Arteta has played down talk of a disagreement with the Brazil national team after Gabriel Jesus was selected by his country for an upcoming brace of World Cup qualifiers despite being sidelined by a hamstring injury.
Interim head coach Fernando Diniz has said he wants to assess Jesus’ fitness in person after not selecting Gabriel Martinelli for the last international break only to watch the supposedly injured winger make an early return to domestic action.
Accusatory or not, the suggestion from the Brazil camp was that they don’t necessarily trust the player updates coming from the Emirates.
Ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Sevilla, a match Jesus will sit out due to a hamstring injury sustained two weeks ago, Arteta was asked whether he was surprised by the call-up.
“I don’t know, the national teams have the duty to produce the list,” he said.
“Sometimes there is uncertainty on the timescale of each player’s availability in the following weeks, and that’s it.
“I think it’s a great thing, I think it’s a really positive thing that he’s getting called up again. It will depend whether he’s fit or not, whether he can travel.
He added: “We don’t know yet [whether he will or won’t be fit], so probably that’s why that’s in the air. But it’s a really simple situation to resolve.”
Jesus was a revelation for the Gunners after signing from Manchester City in July 2022. While his finishing hasn’t always been clinical, there’s no doubt that Arteta’s outfit are a better team with him in the starting lineup. Unfortunately, his time at the Emirates has been pockmarked by regular absence.
He sustained a knee injury at December’s World Cup that required surgery and the knock-on effects are still being felt. In August, he required a follow-up procedure that ruled him out of the first month of the current campaign and he’s already missed a further three games due to his current issue.
It’s all the more frustrating because so far in the Champions League, he’s been Arsenal’s standout player with three goals and an assist in three appearances.
“Obviously he’s been out for a while,” lamented Arteta.
“At the start of the season, I think in the Premier League he only had one start and he’s one of our top players and the players that can produce those magic moments that are necessary to consistently win but we have to adapt, we haven’t got it tomorrow.”
With backup striker Eddie Nketiah struggling with a knock, it’s possible that Arsenal will ask Kai Havertz to lead the line this evening with Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka charged with providing ammunition for the German. The other option is deploying Leandro Trossard as a false nine.