Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has revealed how Arsenal new boy Oleksandr Zinchenko proved the club wrong and once stopped them selling him.
City have enjoyed a busy summer transfer window on the arrivals front. Erling Haaland is the signature capture, the former Borussia Dortmund striker one of the most highly-coveted players in Europe.
Former Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips is also a stellar signing. But City have made a further set of headlines for their summer sales.
Man City have given two of their star first-team stars to Arsenal, who are aiming to join Guardiola’s side in the Premier League’s top four. Meanwhile Chelsea, who are in a better position to close the gap to City, believe Raheem Sterling can bring them even closer.
Speaking after the departures of Sterling, Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus, Guardiola paid tribute to their journeys at the Etihad Stadium.
And Ukraine international Zinchenko’s early career is one that will stay with the Spaniard throughout his coaching career.
“Oleksandr arriving as a boy, he went on loan to Holland, we wanted to sell him and he said no I want to stay here,” Guardiola said.
“He was in the gym when everyone was sleeping, making extra training sessions and he said his time was come.
“His time came and he was ready. He is a top-class player and we will miss him. As a guy he can handle the pressure incredibly well and he has incredible self-confidence.”
Zinchenko has become a versatile addition for Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta. But there is only one job for Jesus, the Gunners’ first City capture this summer: score goals.
Guardiola pays tribute to Jesus, Sterling
The Brazilian, who cost Arsenal £45million, is the new marquee striker for Arteta. Guardiola claimed that he is one of the best he has ever worked with.
“Gabriel is the nicest player I ever worked with and it was a huge task to compete with Sergio Aguero,” the manager said.
“The young player from Brazil came to compete with him and he is the best striker defender I have ever worked with across three positions. He plays five minutes and plays the best five minutes of his life.
“He can press three or four players in 10 seconds for 90 minutes and I have the feeling in most cases we will miss them. It’s life and their successes will be our happiness.”
Guardiola added that Sterling’s “explosion of something incredible and unpredictable” helped him go from a raw talent after leaving Liverpool to a well-rounded person and goalscorer.
Man City will adapt
Some will say it is a risk for City to lose so many of their top talents in one window.
But the arrivals of Haaland and fellow young striker Julian Alvarez mean City clearly have confidence.
Haaland is a classic goal-poacher. He may therefore provide the small missing ingredient for City: finishing off more of their chances in and around the box as they dominate possession.
It may sound a small difference and the goals may not be long-range or out-of-this-world in any regard.
However, they will be contributions that will ultimately help win games, points and trophies.