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Zinchenko’s ghosts

Arsenal, where Oleksandr is an important core player, will play in the Champions League group with PSV, where the Ukrainian has failed at the start of his European career. You can bet on the Arsenal and PSV matches on the website https://pinup-online-az.com/.

Something went wrong from the start

Zinchenko’s journey took a unique turn when he joined PSV on loan right after inking a contract with Manchester City. Initially, this move appeared as a natural and sensible step for a 19-year-old who had only a single season of top-tier experience. Who could have expected him to leap straight into the cutthroat Premier League championship race? Nevertheless, he exceeded expectations remarkably. So much so that the fans in Eindhoven affectionately christened him the «next Messi».

However, adversity struck almost immediately, as an injury prevented his debut at the beginning of the season, forcing him to bide his time until October 1, 2016. Nevertheless, Zinchenko’s progress from the outset impressed the club immensely. To the extent that Marcel Brands, PSV’s technical director at the time, openly voiced his desire to retain the player for an extended period:

«He possesses the qualities of David Silva, with shades of Kevin De Bruyne, albeit with a left foot. PSV had previously attempted to secure Zinchenko from Ufa, but we faced insurmountable obstacles. Our understanding with Manchester City was essentially that he would continue with us for two years to mature. He’s not allowed to play in England, but Guardiola and the Citizens have grand plans for him. And our hopes are high».

In the end, the outcome was 12 appearances in the Eredivisie (including 4 starts), four in the Champions League (with 2 starts), and a solitary substitute appearance in the Dutch Cup. The Ukrainian did feature in 7 games for the reserves during the latter part of the season, though that decision wasn’t imposed by the coach – it was a choice Zinchenko himself made:

«Some reports claimed that I was seemingly demoted to the youth team in the latter part of the season. That’s far from the truth; I volunteered for the switch. I wasn’t getting sufficient game time, and maintaining match fitness was crucial».

Overly serious atmosphere

For the jovial Ukrainian, who is known for spreading cheer both at City and Arsenal, adapting to the serious tone at the Dutch club presented yet another domestic challenge:

«One notable distinction in Dutch football is the earnestness that pervades training, devoid of much humor. I recall a particular instance when we were playing in a practice square. Defenders clutched their shirts, while the attackers went shirtless. I hid my shirt behind my back, pretending I wasn’t even in the square. When they passed the ball, I would slyly reveal my shirt from behind my back. It drew laughter, but they insisted that such antics were not part of the norm».

After the season concluded, he poured out his emotions, underscoring his discontent:

«My time at PSV left me dissatisfied. I was left out of the squad for 8 consecutive games. How can a footballer find happiness when he’s sidelined? Everything else was splendid — the team, the team spirit, the training facilities, the city itself, and the quality of the football pitches were all top-notch. The training regimen was no exception. But when you’re not on the pitch, all of that pales in comparison».

Even in the following summer, after his PSV stint, he dropped hints suggesting that coach Cocu had reservations about him:

«Self-reflection is vital in times of underperformance, but without the coach’s trust, you’re adrift. It’s so much simpler when the coach places their faith in you. Perhaps that’s why I struggled to prove myself at PSV».

Acceptance of guilt

Over time, as the emotions settled, Zinchenko adopted a more composed perspective on his tenure in the Netherlands and recognized his own missteps, admitting that he shouldn’t have voiced his grievances as vehemently during his time at the club:

«There was a different narrative that I’d rather not delve into. Regrettably, there were certain intricacies, stories, and circumstances that limited my playing time, and I take full responsibility for that without holding any grudges against anyone.

I’m still in touch with my former teammates; I recently visited the training grounds and had a conversation with the head coach. Fond memories persist. My year at PSV served as an adjustment period to Europe, their mindset, and acclimatizing to European football», Zinchenko reflected.

Today, it’s rare to hear Alexander voicing complaints. Even during prolonged periods without playing time at Man City, he simply put in the work and gradually earned his place back in the squad. Now, having made the move to Arsenal, he’s not only a part of the team but has also secured a spot in the starting lineup.

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