One of the most criminally underrated footballers around. The Ukrainian international is one of the most versatile footballers on the planet and should be set to take his career to new heights at Arsenal, under the influence of Pep Guardiola’s former assistant coach Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal’s transfer business this summer has been shrewd and accomplished, and now after signing both Zinchenko and Jesus from the citizens, Arsenal could very well be on their way toward building back toward Premier League title acclaim.
In this piece we will discuss why Zinchenko is perfect for Arsenal, and why the signing may be the start of something special for the Gunners in 2022-23.
ZINCHENKO’S STYLE OF PLAY
As stated in the introduction Zinchenko remains one of the most versatile footballers on the planet. He can play at left-back, as he often did for Manchester City, often times in more of an ‘Inverted Fullback’ role. Taking part in central build-ups and exploiting half-spaces for fun, the Ukrainian knows his way around the centre of the park and is more than capable of playing in midfield, as he does for his native Ukraine. But the 25-year-old’s versatility doesn’t stop there. Under the influence of Andriy Shevchenko, the City fullback starred as a left-wing-back for his national team, destroying Sweden in the Round of 16 with a phenomenal display. Such an intelligent footballer with an exceptional awareness of his surroundings, the Ukrainian could easily play in a number of different roles for Arsenal and find his home in a completely new role from where he left off.
The exceptional versatility and intelligent footballing brain of Zinchenko is quite admirable. He reads situations on a football pitch almost as though he’s playing with 3D goggles, picking up perfect pockets of space to receive, and always finding that killer pass to set the stage alight. Importantly for any club picking up his services, he’s also just an incredibly passionate individual, who clearly loves the game with the whole of his heart. He lives and breathes for every kick of the football and that should prove to be an essential characteristic in driving Arsenal on and bringing more passion, exuberance and exhilaration to Mikel Arteta’s team.
Zinchenko’s versatility extends beyond just positional adaptability to his delightful set of skills across the pitch. He’s an exceptional creator, and one of the best progressors in his position. In fact, his 0.35 assists per 90 stands out in the top 1% of full-backs in the world. The same could be said of his goal-creating actions (0.76 per 90!), and both progressive passes (8.02) and progressive carries (9.30 per 90). In a sense, his attacking numbers skyrocket so high over all other fullbacks because he could be considered, well, not a fullback. But that would be the wrong way of looking at this glass-half-full equation. The 25-year-old is an exceptional attack-minded wing genie, capable of being pushed higher up the pitch in any type of role, and facilitating attacks both from deep and the final third. But if you want to deploy him as a fullback, such as when Kieran Tierney finds his way out of full fitness, you bet your life that Zinchenko would be capable of fulfilling his defensive responsibilities.
In fact, he could be considered one of City’s most valuable defensive assets. Man City are a team that are not expected to do much defending, so it’s impressive for any player to put up positive numbers. Zinchenko was dribbled past under 1 time per 90 last season (0.76), boasted a positive pressure percentage of 32.9%, and contributed heavily when pressing from the front in City’s attacking third.
Despite being a relatively shorter lad, the Ukrainian also enjoyed a 54.5% aerial win rate last season, proving himself more than capable of timing his leaps against taller players. All ends up, Zinchenko is a magnificent player.
It is safe to say that Oleksandr Zinchenko is an absolute wizard, and will be a transformative signing for the Gunners, wherever he’s deployed. The Ukrainian international excels beyond just being a versatile footballer who can fulfill different roles, even toward the edge of being one of the best progressors in the world of football. He’s exceptional with the ball at his feet but astutely clever in picking up pockets of space off-the-ball, and defensively destructive when called upon at the other end. City’s goal ratio +/- reached an obscene height of +3.44 with the 25-year-old on the field last season, demonstrating the immense quality he will bring to Mikel Arteta’s team in 2022-23. Wherever he plays, Zinchenko is bound to be a hit.