The Chalkboard: Oleksandr Zinchenko should start even when Benjamin Mendy returns

Fixture In Focus banner Richard Lee

In Benjamin Mendy’s absence, Pep Guardiola has commonly deployed centre-back Aymeric Laporte at left-back as cover for the France international.

However, the entire time that the Spaniard has been doing this, he has a ready made replacement right under his nose and a player that could even replace the misbehaving Mendy in the long term; Oleksandr Zinchenko.

What does he offer that Mendy doesn’t? 

Well, the pair are fairly similar when it comes to their style of play. Both players are left-footed, both enjoy bombing up and down the left flank, and both are equally dangerous crossers of the ball and are always looking to get involved in the attack.

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What Zinchenko offers that Mendy does not, however, is a much more professional outlook on the game. Just last week, Pep Guardiola was told that the World Cup winner had tagged Hong Kong airport as his location on Instagram, when he told his boss that he was heading to Paris.

Whilst that may not seem a big deal, the former Barcelona boss has already had a few run-ins with the former Monaco left-back, notably after the 24-year-old turned up late for a physio session.

In stark contrast, Zinchenko has only made four Premier League starts all season, but has sat patiently on the sidelines and always been ready to take his chance when it comes.

What are the chances of Zinchenko becoming first choice?

Due to the fact that Mendy cost the Citizens a huge £52m fee when they signed him back in 2017, it is unlikely that Guardiola would drop such a huge asset and damage his value.

On just his fourth start in the league this season, however, Ukrainian international Zinchenko recorded his second and third assists of the campaign in the 6-0 win over Chelsea; he was certainly a candidate for the Man of the Match award.

When Mendy returns from his latest knee issue, one would assume that Guardiola would throw him straight back into the starting line-up. However, one more slip up from the social media bandit, and Zinchenko could stake a real claim for his spot in the team.