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Man City's new Brazilian sensation looking to cap dream year

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Palmeiras' Gabriel Jesus, 19, kicks a ball during a trainning session before an interview with Reuters in Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
Palmeiras' Gabriel Jesus, 19, kicks a ball during a trainning session before an interview with Reuters in Sao Paulo, Brazil, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

By Andrew Downie

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - After winning an Olympic gold medal, scoring five goals in his first six Brazil appearances and signing for Manchester City, Gabriel Jesus is looking to cap an unforgettable year this weekend with a Brazilian league title.

His club Palmeiras need just one point from their last two games to claim their first league crown since 1994, which would mark the fondest of farewells for the latest sensation to come out of Brazil.

"It is going to crown the year that I am having," the 19-year-old striker, who will join Man City in January, told Reuters on Thursday.

"I think Sunday will be a tough game (against Chapecoense) but it is up to us and we are close to fulfilling the goal that we had at the start of the year."

Even after taking Brazil's Young Player of the Year award in 2015, Gabriel Jesus could not have imagined in his wildest dreams how perfect the next year would be.

He first established himself in the Palmeiras side that reached the semi-finals of the Paulista state championship.

Then he played for Brazil's Olympic team that beat Germany in the final at a packed Maracana Stadium to win the gold medal for the first time.

His performances won him a call up to the main squad and he scored five goals in his first six games, helping a rejuvenated Brazil to six consecutive wins and top spot in the qualifying table to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

In between he signed for Premier League Manchester City for a fee reported to be 27 million pounds ($33.62 million).

"I was very happy with the year I've had and what I've won," he said.

"Without doubt all the moments were unforgettable, in the Olympics and with Palmeiras and Brazil. I can't discount any of them because they are all part of my life and it's been sensational."

He is excited about his impending move to England to play for Manchester City under former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola and understands he may not be an automatic first choice, but says his goal is to keep learning and progressing.

"I accept that, but I'll be looking to adapt all the time and not lose my focus for a minute, because I want to go there to help the team," he said.

"That's what's important and that is what is in my head. Whatever I can do to adapt as soon as possible I will do.

"I am dying to get over there and help Manchester as much as I can."

($1 = 0.8032 pounds)

(Editing by Toby Davis)


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