Arsenal announced Oleksandr Zinchenko as their fifth signing of the 2022 summer transfer window. The Gunners have signed the Ukrainian for a fee of around £32 million from Manchester City. The 25-year-old has signed a 4-year-deal with the North London side and will wear the number “35” jersey.
Born in Radomyshl, Oleksandr Zinchenko represented the local side, Youth Sporitve School Karpatiya between 2004 to 2008. The Ukrainian played for FC Monolit Illichivsk for one season before signing for Shakhtar Donetsk. He captained the Donetsk youth side and even scored against Manchester United in the 2013-14 UEFA Youth League.
Due to the war in Donbas, the 25-year-old and his family relocated to Russia as Shakhtar Donetsk unsuccessfully tried to sign the player during this period. Zinchenko trained with Rubin Kazan but ultimately signed for the Russian side Ufa. After making his debut in 2015, Zinchenko registered 33 appearances across 2 seasons, scoring twice and assisting 4 times (stats via Transfermarkt). He was mainly used as an attacking midfielder.
Manchester City signed the talented youngster in 2016. The Ukrainian internatinal, 19 at that time, was signed for a reported fee of £1.7 million. The Cityzens then loaned out their new acquisition to Dutch side PSV Eindhoven for the 2016-17 season.
Zinchenko was rotated between PSV and their youth outfit Jong PSV throughout the 2016-17 season. In total, he registered 13 assists in 24 appearances (stats via transfermarkt). Manchester City retained the midfielder for the 2017-18 season.
However, Zinchenko was competing with the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva, Yaya Toure, Kevin De Bruyne, and Fernandinho for a spot in the starting XI. Instead, Pep Guardiola decided to use the former Ufa man in a left-back role. Manchester City’s starting left-back Benjamin Mendy missed large parts of the 2017-18 season, and the player served as backup to Fabian Delph, another midfielder converted into a full-back.
Across the next 4 seasons, the Ukrainian notched up 128 appearances across all competitions for Pep Guardiola’s side. In this time, he had 2 goals and 12 assists against his name (stats via transfermarkt).
Oleksandr Zinchenko made his debut for the National team in 2015, against Spain. He was included in the Ukraine squad for Euro 2016, and registered 3 appearances. He managed just 96 minutes as Ukraine were knocked out in the group stages.
In total, the player has represented his national team 52 times. The 25-year-old has 8 goals and 4 assists to his name. On March 24th, 2021, he became Ukraine’s youngest ever captain at 24 years and 98 days.
Oleksandr Zinchenko worked mainly as an attacking playmaker at Ufa and PSV. Out of necessity, Guardiola utilised the 25-year-old as a full-back. He responded to this challenge by adapting well to the role. He has demonstrated excellent positioning ability and reading of the game. The former PSV loanee is also excellent on the ball. He possesses a good passing range and creative ability.
With the signing of Fabio Vieira, Arsenal already have a good backup for Martin Odegaard in the playmaking department. The Gunners also have Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Albert Sambi Lokonga, and Emile Smith Rowe as options for the midfield. While Zinchenko may get sporadic minutes in the midfield, he will most likely struggle to clamp down a spot as a regular starter.
In contrast, the North London side have had a lot of problems with the left-back spot. Keiran Tierney has had the starting position so far, but he has been plagued by injuries. His deputy, Nuno Tavares has also failed to churn out performances of the required standard till now.
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The former City player is most likely to compete with Tierney for a role as left-back. However, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta could experiment with the 25-year-old in the midfield, and maybe even on the flanks.
What do you think of Oleksandr Zinchenko’s signing? Where would you like to see him being played next season? Should the Ukrainian start over Tierney? Let us know in the comments.
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