(Ruy Rebollo/The Intermission)
By. Dylan Gosse
Arsenal F.C. has just announced their fifth signing of the 2022 summer transfer window, Oleksandr Zinchenko, from Manchester City after just over six years with the Citizens. The 25-year-old Ukrainian left-back and/or defensive midfielder will rejoin Mikel Arteta over an agreed transfer price of 30 million Euros with an extra 2 million in add-ons until 2026.
Why Arsenal Need Zinchenko
After a somewhat disappointing finish to the 2021/22 Premier League season for the Gunners, who just missed out on the UEFA Champions League spot to Tottenham Hotspurs, it was quite clear that many of Arsenal’s problems occurred due to a lack of squad depth.
Regarding Zinchenko’s positions specifically, Kieran Tierney (left-back) missed multiple games at the end of the last season due to a knee injury. While Thomas Partey (defensive midfielder) missed over two months of game time due to a muscle and hip injury. This had forced Arsenal to play rotation players in the starting role more than some Gooner fans would have liked to see.
Nuno Tavares and Mohamed Elneny were the two players that saw the most game-time and although they both had their moments of glory, the quality they provided was not at the top level expected from the manager. There was a lack of consistency in the left-back and central-defensive-midfielder role time and time again, which is exactly where Oleksandr Zinchenko could fit this upcoming campaign.
Why Arsenal Chose the Ukrainian
Zinchenko is a Premier League-proven player, winning the league four times in his six-year spell with Manchester City. In 76 league appearances, the Ukrainian defender held 29 clean sheets and assisted 7 goals for the Citizens. Much like Tierney, he likes to make overlapping runs, drive into the box, and deliver quality balls in front of the net.
Where Nuno Tavares seemed to lack in keeping the ball and in some defensive areas, playing under Pep Guardiola, Zinchenko was able to quickly learn how to keep possession under pressure. Comparing the player to the current left-backs Arsenal have, Tierney and Tavares, Zinchenko leads the three in goals conceded, successful tackles, interceptions, chances created, and successful dribbles per 90 according to OPTA Index Limited.
One of the key factors that attracted Oleksandr Zinchenko to Mikel Arteta was the fact that he is not only a left-back but also a defensive midfielder which he showcased for the Ukrainian national team. In the 2021/22 season, Zinchenko averaged 8.45 progressive passes per 90 minutes. This stat was only beat by Joshua Kimmich (9.75), Toni Kroos (8.89), and Trent Alexander-Arnold (8.77).
This is a huge upgrade for Arsenal, as they like to play counter-futbol and make key passes at the right time. With his defensive capabilities and quality passes, Zinchenko will make a great replacement for Thomas Partey at the central-defensive-midfield position if he sustains an injury or for more depth during Arsenal’s UEFA Europa League run.
Zinchenko's versatility and ability to play multiple positions is exactly the type of player Mikel Arteta has been looking for. His Premier League experience and passion for the game will bring Arsenal to another level. Gooner fans around the world should be looking forward to the Ukrainian and Spanish manager linking up again, as they may be in for one of the most exciting Premier League seasons for Arsenal in years.