Astute. That was the verdict for most when seeing Arsenal had captured the versatile Oleksandr Zinchenko from champions Manchester City.
But the Ukrainian brings so much more to the party.
Zinchenko was trusted by Pep Guardiola to be a stable hand and see out games. A firm hand on the tiller. At just 25, Zinchenko is a wise head on young shoulders, but he is dependable. Give him a task and he will give everything to achieve it.
With Kieran Tierney’s lamentable injury record and Nuno Tavares needing a loan move to Marseille to iron out the creases, Zinchenko will likely play at left-back for us. The adaptable Ukrainian can fit in most systems however, thanks to his skillset.
His first touch, honed under Guardiola, is effective. His discipline in a positional sense, is razor-sharp. His stamina to cover his defensive duties but also carry the ball forward, is reservoir-deep.
But we can see what Zinchenko is truly capable of when we look at his all-action displays for his country.
Used singularly as a central midfielder, Zinchenko pulls strings. He is capable of threading a ball through for marauding attackers, just as much as he can snuff out danger by tracking threats.
To put it plainly – Zinchenko may well be our best purchase this summer.
But where will he be used?
Arsenal’s Xhaka Transition
Granit Xhaka’s place in the Arsenal team is nailed down under Arteta, who sees the value the Swiss star brings in the centre of the pitch. But after 6 years at Arsenal, Xhaka’s turbulent Arsenal career is only now beginning to show his value to the team. The Swiss star has come close to leaving in previous seasons and with further inspection, his departure next season could be likely.
Sky Sports inspected Zinchenko’s arrival and what it could mean for our club on the pitch. Despite playing at a less defensively-challenged club, Zinchenko’s stats trumped Xhaka’s. Their heatmap? Eerily similar.
Our new signing can be the foundation for our side and also add his own stamp. Filling in at left-back? Both players have done so, but Zinchenko’s versatility is born from his skills, rather than Xhaka who is used in that position because he can close the channel.
Let’s not forget who Zinchenko has been coached by for season after season. Guardiola has used the player widely in every competition for the last four seasons. Zinchenko was trusted because he never let his manager down, even in the most intense situations. Challenging for titles, Zinchenko is used to it.
And Mikel saw this in his time at City, ditto with Jesus. How highly regarded was Zinchenko at City? When Kyle Walker was asked who the three most skilled players with the ball were at the club, he said Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Zinchenko. Leaving out Foden and De Bruyne;
“My top three are Zinchenko, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva,” said Walker. “Two touches, head tennis – so good.
“You’re leaving De Bruyne out, Foden [and] Cancelo [too], but they don’t come close to those three.”
Zinchenko at Arsenal is much more than a utility man. He can push our current batch forward, show them what is expected at the level they want to compete at and crucially, deliver on the pitch.
We’re so pleased to have you Oleksandr. You’re the next step in the Arteta plan.