Man City would be making a mistake by allowing Olexsandr Zinchenko to leave this summer

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Only 16 Manchester City players clocked more than 1,000 minutes of Premier League game time last season and Oleksandr Zinchenko was one of them. The Ukrainian might not be considered one of Pep Guardiola’s most important or talented players, but he certainly played a role as City kept hold of their title.

 

Now, though, it seems increasingly likely that Zinchenko will depart the Etihad Stadium this summer. Arsenal and Everton have been linked with the 25-year-old and City are believed to be open to selling him for the right price. The money raised from the sale of Zinchenko could be used to buy a new left back – Marc Cucurella is a target, according to reports.

 

It’s understandable that Manchester City might make a move for a new full back this summer. Kyle Walker’s injury left them somewhat stretched over the final two months of last season with Joao Cancelo moved over to right back in his absence. This left Zinchenko as Guardiola’s only real option on the other side of the defence.

 

Rather than replacing Zinchenko, City would be better giving him cover and competition. The 25-year-old might not be an elite level left back, but he has proven himself as more than suitable for Guardiola’s system and approach. Manchester City would be making a mistake by allowing him to leave the club this summer.

 

“In the position that we have in the midfield, in the pockets as the attacking midfielder – that is his position, definitely,” Guardiola recently explained. “When we bought Oleks for £2million from Ukraine, he was a No.10 – a Phil Foden position, a creative player – but the needs we had… we didn’t have a left-back for many years. He is a reliable player, honestly. He is focused, a guy who handles the pressure, otherwise he would not have played the final of the Champions League.”

 

In possession, Zinchenko is skilled enough to play his role in City’s passing triangles. He has the natural instinct to get forward and is useful when allowed to drive into central midfield. After all, it is in the middle of the pitch where Zinchenko started out as a player. He was initially signed by Manchester City to be a midfielder.

 

To label Zinchenko a utility player might do a disservice to his talent, but it’s certainly true that the Ukrainian’s main purpose at the Etihad Stadium is to round out City’s squad. Without him, Guardiola may need two or three specialists in a variety of positions to perform the same job over the course of a season.

 

If Guardiola feels the need to upgrade on Zinchenko at left back, he should keep the 25-year-old around for what he can offer in other areas of the pitch. Zinchenko is a very different player for his national team for whom he is given the freedom to get forward and create as an attacking midfielder. In this role, he would be a good fit for City.

 

City have already secured Erling Haaland as their marquee signing for this summer’s transfer window with the Norwegian striker filling a hole in their squad as a designated number nine. Many expect the Premier League champions to also move for a new midfield anchor after the exit of Fernandinho at the end of last season.

 

After this has been resolved, Manchester City might focus on more nuanced issues, the future of Zinchenko and the left back position being one of them. Guardiola changed the profile of the Ukrainian as a player and has made great use of him over the last few seasons. He can still be useful in the future.

Author: Lucas Carlson