Interviews

Guardiola hails selfless Zinchenko’s positional intelligence

Pep Guardiola says Oleks Zinchenko’s positional intelligence, versatility and reliability are invaluable qualities in City’s hunt for success.

The Ukrainian has been employed in a variety of roles since joining the Club in the summer of 2016, operating in both attacking and defensive capacities and deputising wherever needed.

Though naturally a midfielder, he has performed admirably as a full-back with an unwavering willingness to help the team, earning praise from his manager for his selflessness and strong team ethic.

Speaking after Saturday’s 5-1 win over Watford, Guardiola was asked which area he feels Zinchenko will occupy in the long-term and replied: “In the position that we have in the midfield, in the pockets as the attacking midfielder.

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“That is his position, definitely. When we brough Oleks for £2million from Ukraine, he was a No.10 – a Phil Foden position, a creative player – but the needs we had… We didn’t have a left-back for many years.

“Fabian Delph adapted incredibly well in that position and Oleks as well. That’s happened because he is well-educated, he knows exactly what it means. He adapted and said: ‘Okay, what does the team need? I’m going to do it.’

“He is a reliable player, honestly. Sometimes when he plays less or didn’t perform like normal, it’s because he’s a human being. What happens in his country, we cannot forget it. I know Oleks – the way he played is not necessary for us to know who he is.

“He is focused, a guy who handles the pressure, otherwise he would not have played the Final of the Champions League.

“We rely on him a lot but there are periods when other players are better or more confident in this specific moment of the season, and that’s why he maybe plays less in this point in the season.

“But who knows who will help us to maybe win the Premier League and reach the Champions League Final… Who knows?

“People think ‘this player’ but sometimes it can be someone unexpected. That’s why everyone has to be ready and the glory will belong to them.”

Hear what Pep had to say in the aftermath of Saturday’s victory in the video above…

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