This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Oleksandr Zinchenko has been one of Manchester City’s most underrated talents over the past year. The Ukrainian signed for the club for just £1.7m, which is more or less the equivalent of a free transfer in the context of the Sheikh Mansour era.
For example, the likes of Benjamin Mendy – whom Zinchenko replaced during his injury – signed for the club for £53m. However, at £51.3m less, the former FC Ufa man has proven to be one of the bargains of the past few years.
Last season, Zinchenko started 14 Premier League games for City at left-back and his three assists helped win the club another Premier League title. In those 14 games, the 22-year-old averaged an impressive 7.19 rating for the Citizens.
Back in February, Guardiola said on Zinchenko: “Incredible is the only thing I can say.
“Oleks has showed me the importance and value of being a good guy.
“At the beginning of the season he was close to making a transfer, and I never saw him have one bad face or had a bad training session from him.
“Some players want to show me how disappointed they are, but Zinchenko is the complete opposite. When this happens, you are always going to play good.”
Also, it is not just the likes of Guardiola who are huge admirers of the versatile man, it’s the fans. Supporters showed their love for him in the recent documentary ‘Fight ’til The End’, and fans praised him throughout last year’s domestic dominance.
Following his exponential rise from fringe and untested youngster to prominent senior star, Zinchenko has seen his Transfermarkt valuation skyrocket to the point in which he is now regarded as the most valuable player in the Ukrainian national side, with a valuation of £27m. Furthermore, the youngster continues to play in central midfielder for his country, which further underlines his versatile brilliance.
His arrival at the Etihad Stadium went under the radar, but his compatriot Andriy Voronin still weighed in with a verdict that looks foolish in retrospect, per BBC.
“Zinchenko is talented, but he must be realistic. He must get experience and game practice. He can only play for Manchester City on PlayStation.”
That prophecy has fallen flat.
In truth, it is not often City spend so little on players with the money they have. However, the story with Zinchenko is one that will go down in club folklore as a unique and truly inspiring story.
The Ukrainian has become a cult hero at the Etihad and a valuable asset to the team, and the fact he is now his country’s most valuable player attests to the scale of his development.