What Oleksandr Zinchenko did to Arsenal transfer target proves why Mikel Arteta should keep him

Oleksandr Zinchenko of Ukraine passes the ball during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Romania and Ukraine at Munich Football Arena on June 17, 2024 in Munich, Germany.
-Credit: (Image: (Photo by Carl Recine/Getty Images))

Oleksandr Zinchenko is facing an important few weeks to prove his worth to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta. The 27-year-old has headed into the European Championships off the back of a challenging 2023/24 season at Emirates Stadium, with niggling injuries impacting him greatly.

Despite the injury to Jurrien Timber, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jakub Kiwior were often preferred to Zinchenko, with the former Manchester City man also struggling defensively when he was selected. In the final six games of the season, Zinchenko appeared for just 49 minutes, but Arteta has still publicly backed the defender.

"He’s very important,” Arteta said before the Premier League clash against Aston Villa “You have to ask the players to play in their strengths. I think Alex has got the personality to play in any game, under any condition, being himself. That’s a big thing to have.

“Yeah, he has some difficulties, especially with injuries, to find the rhythm and to find the consistency, and now he’s back on it, he’s got a few games under his belt, he’s playing better and better and he’s a really, really important player for us.”

Considering his lack of game time, Zinchenko has been linked to an exit, with German giants Bayern Munich keeping tabs on his situation. While he has struggled at club level, Zinchenko often thrives for his country, Ukraine, and it is likely he will be needed in their Euro 2024 campaign.

During his nation's opening game against Romania, Zinchenko showed off arguably his best trait as he headed straight over to comfort goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, who has been tipped to leave Real Madrid this summer with Arsenal one club interested, following a mistake that led to a superb goal being scored by Nicolae Stanciu.

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At the end of the day, Arteta has a number of better options to start at full-back, but it is still important to have leaders in the squad. With Arsenal competing for several trophies, having characters like that in the building is vital, and that is why it may be more beneficial for Arteta to keep Zinchenko as opposed to allowing him to leave.

Zinchenko and his compatriots hardly covered themselves in glory with Romania flying into a three-goal lead in the second half, but from an Arsenal perspective, it is not that much of a concern as you often know what you're going to get from Zinchenko.

When in possession, he is a useful ball carrier and has a great eye for a forward pass, but defensively, he does leave a lot to be desired. However, he has shown numerous times how impactful he likely is behind the scenes, just going off his actions when on the pitch.