Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Oleksandr Zinchenko signs, and means business

So, Oleksandr Zinchenko became our fifth signing of the summer, after his £30m move from Man City was made official last night.

The 25 year old had joined up with his new teammates a couple of days ago, but had to complete the formalities of the deal, medical, and so on. Yesterday, that was all done and dusted and the boyhood Arsenal fan called it a ‘dream come true’ to sign for the club.

Mikel Arteta says:

We’re so happy Alex has joined us. He’s a player that I personally know really well and continued to follow him after my time at Manchester City. Alex is a high quality player who will give us options and versatility. It’s not only about the positions he can play but as well, the versatility he will give us in attack and defence. Alex is a person with great human qualities and character, and I’m delighted that everyone has made this huge effort to bring Alex to the club.

And leaving aside the stuff about him being an Arsenal fan, which will connect with supporters, I thought Zinchenko spoke very well in his first interview with the club (definitely worth a watch). He talked about his connection with Arteta, and how that played a significant part in his decision making, as did hooking up with former teammate Gabriel Jesus who also played a role in convincing him to make the move.

However, there was a seriousness about his intention that was obvious:

I’m ready for another challenge. I’m not here just to waste my time and the time of Arsenal because the club is always in front of everyone. I am here to achieve big things and I hope we can win some titles, and I hope we are going to fight for every title in which we are going to be involved.

I know that’s more or less standard stuff about wanting to win, but the bit about not wasting anyone’s time – that clicked with me. It’s not dissimilar to the way Gabriel Jesus behaved when he came, no airs or graces, just a focus and determination. These guys have come from the most successful club in England over the last five years, and they’re not at Arsenal to ease off and coast through the years ahead.

There’s a seriousness about them that is clearly part of the plan when it comes to our recruitment this summer. Two players of huge experience, both 25 with their best years ahead of them, being added to a group which you can see probably needs the little bit extra to ensure the upward trajectory continues.

As for what he’ll bring to the team, much will depend on where he’s going to play. With rumours of Nuno Tavares heading for Atalanta, the obvious starting point is left-back as competition/depth for Kieran Tierney. At this stage, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the new boy started the season there with KT still making his comeback from knee surgery, but going forward we know he’s more than capable of playing in midfield too.

He started his career as a number 10, and with him, Martin Odegaard, Fabio Vieira, and Emile Smith Rowe, it’s like Arteta is getting the band back together. Creating a team which has not just one outstanding technical player, but many. Zinchenko adds a lot of quality on the ball, and his signing is another piece in the jigsaw that is next season’s team. I’m convinced that with the additions we’ve made, this is a side that will press higher, dominate possession more, look to play much more in the opposition half, and whose outlook and gameplan is much more in line with what we think an Arsenal team should look like.

Overall, a really good signing in what I think has been a very pleasing transfer window so far. And it may not be over yet. Speaking in Orlando ahead of the Chelsea game, the manager said:

“I think we are completing what we planned. There is still a few things that we would like to do, in and out, and that will be determined by the possibilities that are on the market.”

So, let’s see what happens. Zinchenko has trained with the group, and Arteta says he could be involved against Chelsea in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

Finally on the new signing, if you want to go in-depth on what kind of player we’ve got, Phil Costa’s profile piece is here on the site, and over on Patreon we have our traditional new player podcast right here. Something for the dog walk or the Saturday morning chores.


Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the sad passing of one of the club’s most devoted and passionate fans, Maria Petri. The word legend is thrown around a little too often these days, but she was exactly that. Even if you only ever heard her once, I bet you can hear that voice right now, an Arsenal supporting echo for the ages.

The club’s tribute on the official website is perfect, and from all of us here at Arseblog, sincere condolences to her family, friends, and all who loved her.


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