Oleksandr Zinchenko: the timeline of Man City Ace’s meteoric rise to stardom
Oleksandr Zinchenko was in full-time tears on Tuesday night as Manchester City secured their place in the Champions League final with a 4-1 overall win over Paris Saint-Germain.
It was the culmination of a pretty remarkable story for the 24-year-old.
Zinchenko is no ordinary player and his career in the top flight has been paved with adversity.
Although the emotion of the occasion was enough to make one of the Man City players cry on a party where they exorcised demons from their turbulent European history in an emphatic style, but for Zinchenko, there was a much bigger story involved.
At 17, Zinchenko was forced to flee war-torn Ukraine and terminate his contract with Shakhtar Donetsk.
He signed for the Russian UFA roster in February 2015, and although the decision to move to Russia saw him brandish a traitor due to the current political tension, he then made his Ukraine debut at the age of 18. years after impressing in a series of attacks. midfield roles.
Little was known about the youngster at the time and his arrival at Etihad Stadium was just a footnote for a club well used to making over Â£ 50million.
After a one-season loan with PSV Eindhoven in the 2016/17 season, Zinchenko returned to City and began his transition from attacking midfielder to left-back with a handful of appearances in the 17/18 campaign, completing six Premier League starts as a makeshift option.
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At the age of 20, Zinchenko was emerging as more than just a short-term solution to City’s left-back problem.
He was by no means the finished article and signs of physical weakness and position issues left him exposed to high quality opposition.
However, Zinchenko was so impressive that Wolverhampton Wanderers, a club with ambitions to transcend into the Premier League’s top flight, came to call for his signing.
An offer of Â£ 16m was accepted by citizens in 2018, but Zinchenko, only 21 at the time, rejected the offer and vowed to stay and fight for his place.
What a courageous and calculated decision this turned out to be.
Signs of tangible improvement were still evident and Guardiola persevered with this intriguing project, starting him 27 times in all competitions in the 2018/19 season.
At the end of 2019, he was aptly named Ukrainian Footballer of the Year.
A year later, he celebrated winning a domestic treble in what has been an injured 2019/20 season for Zinchenko personally.
Despite having had a rocky start to the 2020/21 season, with injuries and forced quarantine by COVID, forcing him to play just 12 minutes of City’s first 14 league games, the cult hero immensely popular has continued to consolidate its credentials as one of the biggest deals in football history.
Zinchenko had the honor of leading his country for the first time in March in three successive qualifiers against France, Finland and Kazakhstan.
For his club, meanwhile, Zinchenko’s impact on the substitutes bench in the first leg against PSG was widely seen as the important turning point that saw City reverse a zero deficit and reduce two goals to outside at Etihad Stadium.
His reward: a starting place in the return match, which he took very well.
A marauding run in the left channel and a carefully timed square pass to Kevin De Bruyne facilitated Riyad Mahrez’s opener, while a second-half block to deny Neymar was greeted by John Stones and Ruben Dias with the same zeal that you would expect to see from one lens to the other end.
With the Champions League final awaiting City on May 29, Zinchenko has every chance of starting on the left side of City’s defense in what would represent one of football’s most incredible achievements.