Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Oleksandr Zinchenko from Manchester City. The deal is reported as undisclosed, however, it is expected that Arsenal will pay around £30m for the player with £2m in what has been described as “easy to achieve add-ons”. Zinchenko has signed a four-year contract, with personal terms being handled on the player’s side by his agent, Anatoliy Patuk.
The deal has been wrapped up rather quickly. After making initial contact with Manchester City, the two clubs were able to come to a verbal agreement within the space of a few days, with Arsenal talking the Manchester club down from their initial £35m valuation. Both Manchester City and Arsenal are in the USA on their pre-season tours, which meant that Zinchenko’s medical, official contract signing and media duties were all carried out at Arsenal’s Orlando training base, with Zinchenko having been given permission by City to leave their Houston training camp. Zinchenko was also present in the club’s 1-3 win over Orlando City.
The club’s interest in Zinchenko is well-known, with Arsenal making contact with the player’s agents earlier in the summer. Despite this, Arsenal’s main priority signing was Ajax’s Lisandro Martínez, however, the club deemed Ajax’s £45m price tag to be excessive and opted to move on from the deal, with the player having now joined up with former manager Erik ten Hag at Manchester United. That United have ended up paying in excess of £55m, suggests that Arsenal deemed the price far too high. Anderlecht’s Sergio Gómez was also considered as an alternative.
Zinchenko has been signed ostensibly to be cover for Kieran Tierney, however, he also comes with the additional caveat of being able to fill in in midfield where needed, a position he often takes up for the Ukraine national side.
Part of the appeal of Zinchenko is his tactical and positional versatility, something that Mikel Arteta already knows plenty about, having worked extensively with him during his time at Manchester City.
Arsenal’s interest in Zinchenko actually pre-dates Arteta’s arrival at Arsenal. During Arsène Wenger’s time with Arsenal, Wenger watched Zinchenko’s performance in the UEFA Youth League, in which he played against Arsenal. Though Arsenal tried to complete a deal, there were too many complications and the deal eventually fell through.
Zinchenko eventually joined FC Ufa in Russia, where he caught the eye of many clubs around Europe, including Borussia Dortmund.
Eventually, Zinchenko was signed by Manchester City and after a succesful loan spell at PSV in Holland, he was recalled and dropped into the senior set-up by Pep Guardiola.
Initially, Zinchenko found game time hard to come by. His initial position was that of a centre-midfielder, a position that City were already incredibly stacked in, but with injuries to Benjamin Mendy and Fabian Delph, Zinchenko was handed more game time as a left-back.
In fact, it was Mikel Arteta who suggested that Pep Guardiola try the Ukranian as a full-back, feeling that Zinchenko could cope with wingers owing to his positional sense and technique.
Given the rotational tendancies of Pep Guardiola, Zinchenko has often found himself unsettled in the team, though he has made a number of important apperances for the club, most notably in the UEFA Champions League final loss to Chelsea.
His switch to Arsenal now adds Arsenal with more options for their midfield and with cover for Kieran Tierney, with Nuno Tavares likely heading out on loan.
Zinchenko’s profile is fairly close to that of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, in that he is a utility player who has been converted from a midfielder to fullback, but is capable of occupying multiple roles for the club.
The 25-year-old is Arsenal’s fourth signing of the summer, following the arrivals of Marquinhos from São Paulo, Fábio Vieria from FC Porto and former teammate Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City, in addition to the January signing Matt Turner.
Zinchenko is not expected to be Arsenal’s final deal of the window either. At the moment, focus will likely shift towards outgoings. Bernd Leno is waiting for the club to find an agreement with Fulham, whereas the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Héctor Bellerín and Lucas Torreira are still looking for a club. Once Arsenal have been able to shift some players in midfield, they may turn their attentions to Leicester City’s Youri Tielemans.