Manchester City

£4.5m-rated likely title winner will surely be one of the first Man City exits this summer

The Manchester City fans were delighted in the Transfer Tavern on Monday evening after their side took another step closer to the Premier League title with a 2-0 victory over Stoke City at The Bet365 Stadium.

Pep Guardiola’s side collected their 26th victory of their league campaign on Monday evening as David Silva scored a brace either side of half-time to ensure The Citizens returned to Manchester with all three points. Their result has left them on the cusp of clinching the title, and if results go their way then they could actually be crowned as champions following the Manchester derby in April.

Barring the absence of Sergio Aguero who is currently sidelined due to a troublesome knee injury, Guardiola opted to name a side that was more or less at full-strength for City’s trip to Staffordshire. However, Oleksandr Zinchenko was favoured over Danilo at left-back and handed his first start away from home all season.

The Ukrainian international – rated at £4.5m by Transfermarkt – was tasked with one the most difficult challenges he possibly could have faced last night by being handed the responsibility of marking Xherdan Shaqiri. Shaqiri is one of the most tricky and creative wingers in the league, so Guardiola’s decision to play Zinchenko speaks volumes about the level of trust he places in his 21-year-old.

Zinchenko has been in fine form for the club whilst playing out of position, but he was slightly exposed last night against a player who doesn’t need a second invitation to take on his opposite number. His defensive naivety went unpunished and largely he coped well with the threat posed by Shaqiri, but his positive performance is unlikely to convince Guardiola that he represents a long-term solution to the left-back problem at the club.

Unfortunately for Zinchenko, he may not be handed an opportunity to prove himself in his preferred attacking-midfield position either due to the array of talent that he has to compete against for a starting berth. With that being said, it seems plausible that the 21-year-old will become surplus to requirements next summer on the premise that City will sign a new left-back to support Benjamin Mendy.

Zinchenko’s development at the club has thoroughly pleased the supporters, but he may be forced to sign off his City career on a massive high this summer before embarking on a new challenge with a club who are willing to provide him with an opportunity in his favoured position.

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