Sports Mole takes a look at two ways Arsenal could line up with Oleksandr Zinchenko amid reports of a £35m deal with Manchester City being close to completion.
Arsenal are apparently close to sealing a deal for Manchester City left-back Oleksandr Zinchenkowho will be allowed to leave the Premier League champions for the right price this summer.
The Gunners were strongly linked with a swoop for the Ukraine international earlier in the transfer window before Mikel Arteta and Coal set their sights on a host of other targets.
However, with Zinchenko potentially being pushed further down the pecking order if Marc Cucurella arrives at the Etihad, Arsenal could once again try to prize him away from Manchester.
The 25-year-old’s previous experience of working under Arteta and versatility will appeal to the hierarchy at the Emirates, and he could be used in a multitude of positions in North London.
A recent report from the Daily Mail has indicated that Arsenal and City are now close to reaching a £35m agreement for Zinchenko, which would see the Premier League champions make a healthy profit on the £1.8m they forked out to sign the defender from Ufa in 2016.
Here, Sports Mole takes a look at two ways Arsenal could line up with Zinchenko for the 2022-23 season.
During his time under Pep Guardiola and briefly Arteta, Zinchenko would often be used in his left-back role for the Premier League champions, whether from the first whistle or off the bench.
The Ukraine international put in some eye-catching displays on the left-hand side for Man City in the latter stages of the 2021-22 season, and Arteta would welcome an addition to his defensive ranks on that side.
Kieran Tierney is Arsenal’s undisputed number one in the left-back spot, but trusting the Scotland international to stay free from injury for an entire season is a huge ask, and he has only just recovered from knee surgery.
Nuno Tavares showed flashes of what he is capable of last term, but the 22-year-old still has a lot to learn defensively and may even discover that his talents are better for the left-wing spot rather than as a defender.
The Europa League could provide Tavares with some ideal opportunities to improve his skills, but the Gunners could still elect to loan or sell the Portuguese out amid interest from Marseille and Atalanta BC.
The Gunners have already missed out on two left-back targets this summer, too Aaron Hickey signing for Brentford while Manchester United are on the verge of sealing a deal for Ajax’s Lisandro Martinez.
As a result, Arteta would welcome the possibility to rotate between Tierney and Zinchenko at left-back as the club prepares for a return to European football, with the former’s error-prone legs surely unable to cope with the dreaded Thursday-Sunday fixture schedule for a full year.
Such a formation would likely see an unchanged midfield of Thomas Partey and Granit Xhakathough Albert Sambi Lokonga and Mohamed Elneny will continue to push for opportunities.
While Zinchenko is primarily used as a left-back at the Etihad, the Ukraine international very rarely features out wide for his national team and can often be found in the heart of their midfield.
Arteta supposedly wants to eventually mold Arsenal into his desired 4-3-3 shape, which would seemingly become a far more straightforward task with the acquisition of Zinchenko.
The versatile Premier League winner often features in that formation for Ukraine, but such a switch from Arsenal’s regular 4-2-3-1 would have implications on one of the Gunners’ midfield mainstays.
If he is fit and available, the injury-plagued Partey is a shoo-in for the holding role, leaving Xhaka and Martin Odegaard to battle it out for the other spot in Arteta’s three-man midfield.
Odegaard’s creative influence could ultimately see him get the nod, as the Norwegian supports the new-look attack of Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Zinchenko’s former Man City teammate Gabriel Jesus.
Should Arteta view Zinchenko as more of a midfielder, the Gunners boss is unlikely to sanction an exit for Tavares as he continues to act as Tierney’s understudy for the left-back spot.
On the opposite side of the defense, Takehiro Tomiyasu will aim to put his injury woes behind him, and an intense battle between Gabriel Magalhaes, Ben White and William Saliba will begin in the heart of defense.
Saliba will have to prove his worth to Arteta and will likely have to wait even longer for opportunities off the bench in the first few weeks of the season, with White and Gabriel protecting Aaron Ramsdale as ever