PLAYER PROFILE: Oleksandr Zinchenko

On the 4th of July 2016, Manchester City officially announced the signing of Oleksandr Zinchenko on a five year deal for a fee of around £4 million. This signing raised many eyebrows as there were quite a few City fans who didn’t know who this talented youngster was. So here’s everything you need to know about Ukraine’s most promising starlet…

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Oleksandr Volodymyrovych Zinchenko was born on 15th December 1996, in the historic city of Radomyshl in Ukraine. He played his youth football first for FC Monolit Illicivsk until 2009 before moving to the youth academy of Shakhtar Donetsk, where he played until 2012. Lack of opportunities to break into the first team convinced him to leave the club. He trialled with Rubin Kazan but they were not able to close the sale before the summer transfer window closed, leaving him without a club. He continued to train with Rubin Kazan until FC Ufa showed interest in him. The prospect of regular first team competitive football appealed to him and he signed for them on 13th February 2015.

Life began slowly at the club but the 2015-16 season saw him bloom into a fine midfielder, a shining spot in an otherwise dull season for the Gorozhane as they barely avoided relegation.

Zinchenko played 24 times during the season scoring two goals and registering four assists. This form rewarded him with a late call up to the Ukraine national squad for Euro 2016, during which he was regarded by most experts as the only Ukrainian player to come out of a miserable campaign with positives.

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His performance at Ufa and for Ukraine prompted interest from City and after intense negotiations, he was officially announced as Pep Guardiola’s fourth signing for the summer.

It is not likely however that he will ply his trade at the Etihad Stadium this season with the media suggesting that a possible loan move to PSV Eindhoven is on the cards. A move to the Dutch league is exactly what Zinchenko needs to condition himself for life in the Premier League.

Zinchenko has been trained to possess a skill-set that makes him a valuable asset to any club playing in any league around the world. He can play a wide variety of positions but prefers to play as a central attacking midfielder. He can also play wide and prefers to cut onto the right using his left foot. He has also played at the left back and centre back positions at various points in his playing career. He has an exquisite combination of vision, ball control and excellent crossing. He is also a set piece specialist. He has plenty of pace which he uses effectively to pounce on loose balls and break away from defenders. He has a wonderful left foot which is shown with his wide range of passing. He can read play well and find that key pass with perfection. He can also pick up possession for his team either by tracking back and making a tackle or getting in the right position for when the opposition’s attack breaks down.

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His downside would probably be his over reliance on his left foot. He is also a considerably smaller player who can easily be shrugged out of possession. However these deficiencies can be worked on and that the fact that he is only 19 helps.

He’s been included in the Team of the Tournament at the Under-17 European Championships in 2013 and the Under-19 European Championship in 2015. He also broke the record for the youngest goal scorer for Ukraine, previously held by Andriy Shevchenko and is also the third youngest player to represent Ukraine at the international level.

I believe that Zinchenko has chosen the perfect place for his development and with the potential he has shown so far, after his spell on loan, he can become, under the guidance of coach extraordinaire Pep Guardiola, one of the most influential midfielders in the world.

Written by Kaushal Menon

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