Oleksandr Zinchenko 19 Midfielder PSV Ukraine
Teenage Manchester City loanee Oleksandr Zinchenko finished his football education at Shakhtar Donetsk but made his professional debut over the border with FC Ufa, who introduced him into the Russian Premier League in March 2015. Not eighteen months later he’d been snapped up by Manchester City at a price that could prove to have been a bargain.
2016 has been…
The first year of the rest of Zinchenko’s career. He left Ufa in July to join City, an enormous jump in standards and one taken in the face of apparent interest from Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund. It’s safe to say this was one kid in demand, and his move to the English top flight has come early in his career.
He hasn’t yet played for his new club. In August he was loaned out to PSV, persuaded to take the offer by City coach Pep Guardiola and encouraged by his agent. Having more or less established himself as an attacking midfielder or outside forward at Ufa in the first half of the year, grabbing a couple of goals along the way, he endured a frustrating start to life in Eindhoven.
After beginnings delayed by injury Zinchenko has made strides at his new club. He’s started a few games and has showed already that he’s capable of making a match-winning impression, as ADO Den Haag discovered in November. He also made a couple of starts in PSV’s doomed UEFA Champions League campaign.
Deceptively physical and blessed with good defensive positioning and the workrate to match, Zinchenko is nonetheless a primarily creative player. The important defensive job he did for Ufa was outshone by his crisp left foot delivery, his relative positional versatility and a lovely blend of class and energy.
His weaknesses include the occasional inability to get a foothold in the game, and the fact that his ability to play a variety of attacking roles can take away his chances to whip the ball in left-footed. These weaknesses can be filed under “minor”.
Zinchenko played for Ukraine at the full range of youth levels and made his senior debut in October 2015. He scored his first, only and record-breaking goal at international level in May 2016 and came on twice as a substitute in Ukraine’s woeful UEFA EURO 2016 effort. Later in the year he’s winning a few starts, capping what must have been a whirlwind year.
Zinchenko’s all set. He’s making good progress at international level and biding his time – with his coach’s blessing – domestically. He’ll remain at PSV until the summer and there aren’t many better places for him. Keeping himself in contention will go a long way towards proving his long-term worth.
After that, the real challenge: can Zinchenko develop into a fully-fledged City signing and get on the field at the Etihad before 2017 is out?
C- A huge step up but time’s on his side
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