Arsenal have been dealt a major injury blow with the news that star forward Gabriel Jesus requires knee surgery – but they may already have a left-field replacement at the club.

Jesus suffered the injury on World Cup duty with Brazil, and was ruled out of the tournament following their third and final group stage game against Cameroon.

The 25-year-old has been one of Arsenal’s key players since arriving at the club from Manchester City in the summer, scoring five goals and providing five assists in 14 league appearances.

The Telegraph report that Jesus has suffered medial ligament damage, meaning the Brazilian could spend months on the sidelines – but it could be a shorter timeframe depending on how he recovers from surgery.

Eddie Nketiah will likely take up the central role for Mikel Arteta’s side in Jesus’ absence, with the 23-year-old established as Arsenal’s second choice striker this term.

But he is yet to score a goal in the league this season, although he has scored twice in the Europa League amid some impressive displays.

But Emile Smith Rowe could fit the bill instead.

Smith Rowe as Jesus replacement?

Whilst Smith Rowe has rarely played in a striking role in his career, he has often played on the left side of attack or just behind a centre forward.

And in February of this year, Arteta said (via The Athletic) that Smith Rowe could play as a number nine “very, very well”.

It is unclear whether his preferred role in this case would be as a centre forward, or as more of a false nine – the role utilised by Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

Jesus has excelled this term in linking up play and dribbling into the box from deeper areas, and it is telling that although he hasn’t scored in his last 11 Arsenal appearances, his overall performances have still been at an extremely high level.

Goals have instead come from Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka recently. A creative force such as Smith Rowe – who was said to be worth ‘at least £100 million’ by former Chelsea star Joe Cole last year – operating further forward could continue to allow those players to make their mark on Arsenal’s title challenge.

Mikel Arteta’s side are five points ahead of second-placed Manchester City, and are back in league action on Boxing Day when they take on West Ham.