‘He’s incredible’ – Kyle Walker warns Man City not to make summer transfer mistake
After playing a crucial role in Manchester City’s dramatic comeback on the final day of the season, Oleksandr Zinchenko could be on his way out of the club this summer.
This season was the toughest of Zinchenko’s career, with the Ukrainian midfielder turned left-back having to perform at a high level despite the emotional distress caused by the invasion of his homeland by Russia. When news of the invasion broke at the end of February, Zinchenko was set on returning to Ukraine to fight, but after persuasion from family and friends, he stayed put and reminded everyone at City just what a superb talent he is.
The desperate situation has arguably strengthened the bond between Zinchenko, the club and fans, who the 25-year-old has repeatedly thanked for their unwavering support. However, the brutal truth is that footballers want to play regularly. Zinchenko made just 15 Premier League appearances this season, and with Arsenal reportedly interested in signing him, he could be tempted to move.
While Zinchenko is not a starter for City if everyone is fit and in form, there is no doubting that he is one of the most technically gifted players at Pep Guardiola’s disposal. Add to that his versatility – he can play in midfield and on the wing – work ethic and desire to fight until the end, and you have a player that any coach in world football would be happy to have in their squad.
While it can be easy to overlook Zinchenko when discussing City’s incredible talents, that certainly isn’t the case for Kyle Walker. In a recent interview with YouTuber Timbsy, the England right-back told City exactly why they must try to keep hold of his Ukrainian teammate.
When discussing the rondo drill that Pep famously uses in his training sessions, Timbsy asked Walker to name the most technically gifted players at City. The 32-year-old picked – in no particular order – Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Zinchenko as the club’s three best technicians. Like many of us, the host was a little surprised by the inclusion of Zinchenko, but Walker insisted that he is an underrated technician.
“He’s incredible… he’s incredible,” Walker said of Zinchenko. “Two touches, head tennis, he’s so good, so so good. But then you’re leaving out the likes of [Kevin] De Bruyne, Phil Foden, [Jack] Grealish, [Joao] Cancelo. But they don’t come close to those three.”
Walker is right. Zinchenko would walk into the starting line-up of pretty much any other Premier League side or top-level European team – he’s just unlucky that City have other incredible options in his preferred positions.
If it weren’t for the brilliance of Cancelo this season, the Ukrainian would have surely started many more games, while the presence of De Bruyne, Bernardo and Ilkay Gundogan in the squad make minutes in midfield impossible to come by.
Zinchenko’s technical and human qualities make him a manager’s dream, but ultimately his future will come down to whether or not he wants to play more minutes. If he does, then Guardiola won’t be able to offer him that guarantee, whereas a team like Arsenal will.
Rest assured though, City will do everything in their power to try and convince Zinchenko to stay. As Walker said, he’s incredible.