Pep Guardiola made a huge mistake when he sold Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal, according to Bukayo Saka. Since the Ukrainian’s arrival from Manchester City less than a year ago, the Gunners have emerged as title contenders.
Guardiola did both Mikel Arteta and Zinchenko a favour by allowing him to join Arsenal. Few people questioned City’s decision to allow the left-back to move to north London at the time.
City had just won back-to-back titles, while Arsenal had failed to finish in the top four for the sixth consecutive season. Guardiola, on the other hand, undervalued Arsenal’s potential and will undoubtedly come to regret his decision.
Many expected Liverpool, Chelsea, and possibly Manchester United to mount a title challenge this season, but Guardiola would not sell to any of them. He didn’t see Arsenal as a rival in that category at the time, though Zinchenko has admitted that the Gunners are the only English club for which he would have left City.
Saka and Zinchenko will square off in the Euro 2024 qualifier between England and Ukraine on Sunday. Saka has spoken about the impact his teammate has had at club level ahead of the game.
He stated: “Zinchenko brought quality, but he also brought a lot more. You can see how he controls the game and how he plays. He’s a fantastic player.
“He has excellent leadership qualities, so he is assisting us on all fronts. As players who have won the league, they (Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus) have brought that winning mentality to us.
“They understand how we feel in difficult situations and can encourage us because we have a lot of young players. They are extremely beneficial to our mental health.”
Zinchenko is one of the Ukraine team’s poster boys as his country remains at war with Russia. Saka believes this adds to the 26-year-exceptional old’s performances this season.
He went on to say: “Nobody will ever comprehend what Oleks is going through. He has incredible mental fortitude.
“It is a testament to his ability to focus on the game and perform so well for Arsenal and his country. He has a bit of fire in him that he uses to his advantage.
“I haven’t talked to him about the war, but if he wants to talk about it, I’m here to listen and assist him in any way I can. Oleks is a fictional character. He’s a teammate of mine, but not on Sunday.”