Pep Guardiola breaks silence on Zinchenko’s future

Pep Guardiola has hailed Oleksandr Zinchenko for his service to Manchester City as he prepares to join Arsenal for £32 million.

After six years at City, where he won four Premier League crowns, four Carabao Cups, and one FA Cup, the Ukrainian is ready to make the big money transfer to the Emirates Stadium.

Zinchenko was involved in some crucial moments throughout his stay at the club, notably the final day of the season, when he earned an assist against Aston Villa as City recovered from behind to win and claim the Premier League championship.

Zinchenko had only made 33 professional appearances for Ufa before joining City in 2016, and despite spending his first season on loan at PSV, he rapidly established himself as an important piece in Guardiola’s side.

The 25-year-old appeared 128 times for the Citizens, and Guardiola is pleased they were able to properly say farewell to the player.

The Spaniard said: “I’ll say on behalf of the club our gratitude on and off the pitch. It was nice yesterday with Oleks because we could say bye properly. Unfortunately, Gabi [Gabriel Jesus] and Raheem [Sterling] could not do it but with him we could and he moves on to Arsenal.”

Zinchenko is the third big-name City player to depart the club this summer, following Jesus’ £45 million move to Arsenal earlier this month. The Brazilian scored several goals for the Sky Blues during his five-year stay, including 13 in 41 outings last season.

Meanwhile, Sterling joined Chelsea as their first summer acquisition last week, and, like Jesus, he came up big in key situations. With the departure of the 27-year-old, Kevin De Bruyne is the lone remaining member of Manuel Pellegrini’s 2015/16 City side.

Echoing Guardiola’s sentiments, Kyle Walker also paid tribute to former teammate Zinchenko as he departs for a new challenge. He said: “Zinchenko will be a miss but life goes on. It’s a hurdle we have to overcome.

“We’ve lost two big characters with Fernandinho and Raz [Sterling]. But me, [Ilkay] Gundogan, Ruben [Dias], Rodri, [Nathan] Ake need to step up and maintain the level when senior players leave.”