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Ronaldinho says Man City's Gabriel Jesus could become world's best player

Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Premier League match v Swansea, February 5
Image: Gabriel Jesus will put in 'big' performances against the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, says Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho believes Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus has the potential to succeed Lionel Messi as the world's best player.

Jesus, 19, has already usurped Sergio Aguero in the City pecking order under Pep Guardiola, scoring three goals in three starts since arriving at the Etihad Stadium in January, and looks set to keep his place for the Monday Night Football clash at Bournemouth, live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 7pm.

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Ronaldinho believes his Brazilian compatriot can go on to even greater things, though, eventually taking over from Barcelona star Messi who has won a record five FIFA Ballons d'Or.

"Manchester City have a very special player with Gabriel Jesus," Ronaldinho said, as quoted by the Daily Mirror. "Maybe even, in the future, the best player in the world.

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Watch Lionel Messi grab his 17th La Liga goal of the season in Barcelona's 6-0 win at Alaves on Saturday

"At the moment, it is Messi. I have always said I think one day it will be Neymar. But at 19, in the future, it can be Gabriel. He has all the abilities to make that happen."

Jesus has also been a hit on the international stage, scoring five goals in six games for Brazil's senior side, and City boss Guardiola has already indicated the teenager will not need the same protection as other young players require.

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Ronaldinho won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil at the age of 22 and went on to steer Barcelona to the Champions League trophy in 2006, and he believes Jesus is ready to play on any stage.

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"I don't always agree that players should always be eased in - it depends on the type of player," Ronaldinho, now 36, added.

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Highlights of Jesus' double in Manchester City's 2-1 win over Swansea

"You look at Gabriel Jesus and he has no fear at all. He just wants to play and show what he can do. He will put in big ­performances against Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and all the other top teams in England.

"I'm pleased he has been named in the Champions League squad and I think he should play, he is full of confidence. Ronaldo, Kaka, myself and, more recently, Neymar were playing at the highest level at a young age. Gabriel is in that category."

Argentina's Lionel Messi (C) is marked by Brazil's Gabriel Jesus during their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Belo Horizonte, 10 November 2016
Image: Lionel Messi and Gabriel Jesus in action during the Argentina v Brazil World Cup qualifier in Belo Horizonte last November

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