Gabriel Jesus welcomes Firmino's challenge for Brazil starting spot
VANDERLEI ALMEIDA / AFP / Getty

Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus says he welcomes competition from Liverpool's Roberto Firmino for the starting role atop Brazil's preferred XI, and gave credit to his Premier League opponent for his impressive 2017-18 season.

Firmino has become a massive scoring force for Liverpool this season under Jurgen Klopp, notching 27 goals in 48 appearances - more than double his 12-goal tally from the season prior. While Jesus has been Brazil manager Tite's preferred starting centre-forward, Firmino's performance and consistency have his name back in the mix.

"In fact, this is good for me, for Firmino, and for the national team," Jesus told ESPN when asked about Firmino's form. "Then there's no way to cheer against a teammate.

"Of course I'm going to cheer against his team, but never against him. I'm happy with his season, with everything he's been doing. It makes me happy and gives me more strength to keep working and improving.

"I pray for him and I hope he realises all his dreams. I hope that he arrives very well, very strong to compete in the World Cup. This will help him, me, and the national team."

Jesus hasn't exactly endured misery himself - the 21-year-old's also enjoyed a stellar season, scoring 15 goals in 38 matches to help Pep Guardiola's side clinch the Premier League title. He also has nine goals for Brazil.

He plays a hold-up style that contrasts with Firmino's run-and-gun approach, but Jesus says they do share some similarities.

"From my point of view, I think that it's a bit similar way to play because I run to help and to defend like him, I run to attack like him," Jesus explained. "Of course, no one plays the same way, but I think the defensive skills and the way that we try to help the team are the same."

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Gabriel Jesus welcomes Firmino's challenge for Brazil starting spot
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