Reported Newcastle target Oleksandr Zinchenko was a shock starter for Manchester City on Wednesday night.
Pep Guardiola’s side took on Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League – tantalising tie between two of the richest and biggest clubs on the planet.
PSG had Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar in attack, while there was a surprise in Man City’s starting XI.
Zinchenko was named in the starting lineup for just the third time this season, having also started against RB Leipzig in the Champions League and West Ham in the EFL Cup.
Opportunities have been limited for the 24-year-old this season, but he was thrown in at the deep end against the mighty Paris Saint-Germain.
Zinchenko in midfield for Man City
Zinchenko arrived at Manchester City as a midfielder, but was converted into a left-back by Guardiola. He’s done well in that position, proving just how adaptable he is…and how good a coach Pep is.
However, he returned to midfield on Wednesday night – a shock given the opposition.
Guardiola had multiple midfielders out injured, but did have Fernandinho available. Instead, the Spaniard opted to give Zinchenko a chance in his rotating midfield three.
And despite only playing 54 minutes, he thrived. His work rate was infectious, pressing high up the pitch as PSG tried to play out from the back.
He often found himself up front, as Guardiola’s striker-less side looked to topple their European rivals.
Smart in possession and filling in at left-back when required, Zinchenko more than held his own under the bright Champions League lights.
He was withdrawn early in the second half after Man City went behind, but that was reflective of the score rather than his performance.
Champions League performance shows why Zinchenko would be a smart Newcastle signing
According to the Northern Echo, Newcastle could make an ambitious move for Zinchenko if his City woes continue.
Despite a strong showing against PSG, he hasn’t played a lot of football this season. Joao Cancelo has been incredible at left-back, with scintillating assists becoming his trademark.
But Zinchenko’s performance on Wednesday was a reminder to Guardiola about how good he can be. It also showed what a smart signing he could be for Newcastle.
If he did join the Magpies, Eddie Howe would need to decide which position is his best. We certainly can improve at left-back, which is where he has usually played in recent years.
But his Champions League exploit and international appearances for Ukraine show he is more than capable of operating in midfield too.
He can press high, which is something Howe wants from his players.
While he’s far from a blockbuster name, Zinchenko could be a blockbuster signing for Newcastle United. But perhaps a deal will be even more difficult now.