Man City transfer stance could give Aleks Zinchenko new role under Guardiola

After two years of thriving in an underdog status, Aleks Zinchenko failed to make the most of being given a central role at Manchester City.

A new squad number accompanied a contract renewal in July 2019 that saw him start the season as Pep Guardiola’s first-choice left-back. ‘No Zina, no party’ as the inscription on his boots reads.

Except any celebrations were shortlived. The Ukrainian’s eight starts in City’s opening ten games amount to almost half of his total for the lengthy campaign. And while an injury did not help him in the autumn, he was unable to capitalise on Angelino’s exit in January and found himself behind a new challenger in Joao Cancelo once football restarted in June.

Angelino’s place in the squad for the upcoming season is up in the air with interest from RB Leipzig and Barcelona, yet Zinchenko looks to be third-choice at best for the position he has been adapted for.

That may not bother the 23-year-old, who has defied similar odds before at the club and twice turned down departures in order to fight for a place in the team.

It would be unfortunate too if recent comments from both him and his new wife Vlada Sedan were to impact on his chances. The criticism was ill-advised but was far from the only savaging Guardiola got for their Champions League exit and having to take time out of his own wedding day to batter out a clarification on Notes is hopefully punishment enough for the lack of thought in Sedan’s vlog.

If there are a number of obstacles to regular football at left-back, there could be more opportunities for Zinchenko further up the pitch.

He arrived as an attacking midfielder and with his added defensive quality would be a useful option in some games ahead of the left back, particularly in games against opposition playing a low block where not much defensive work is expected but lots of crossing is.

There is also the defensive midfield role where he has looked accomplished in Ukraine’s side. Rodri will continue as first-choice next season with Ilkay Gundogan an option to rotate but with David Silva gone and Phil Foden’s future possibly lying on the wings the midfield only looks an injury away from being short of numbers with no current plans to strengthen this summer.

At 23, there will be good clubs interested again if it is decided that he is surplus to requirements at the Etihad. Equally though, given Guardiola values Zinchenko’s attitude whether he is in or out of the team, and his quality on the ball, there is plenty going for the player to remain a part of the squad.

Zinchenko may have missed the opportunity that opened up in front of him 12 months ago, but if City don’t recruit any more midfielders this summer there could be a new way for him to show his worth.

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