Arsenal ace Saka proves Guardiola made a Man City mistake he’ll regret

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Bukayo Saka has explained how big a mistake Pep Guardiola made in selling Oleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal. The Gunners have become title contenders since the Ukrainian’s arrival from Manchester City less than a year ago.

Guardiola did both his friend Mikel Arteta and Zinchenko a favour by letting the player join Arsenal. Not many people at the time questioned the decision for City to allow the left-back to make the move to north London.

City had just been crowned back-to-back champions, while Arsenal had missed out on finishing in the top four for the sixth straight season. However, Guardiola underestimated the Gunners’ potential and he surely now regrets the decision.

Many expected the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and perhaps Manchester United to forge a title challenge this season, three teams Guardiola would not sell to. He didn’t see Arsenal as a rival in that category at the time, though Zinchenko has admitted the Gunners are the only English team he would have left City for.

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Saka and Zinchenko go head to head in Sunday’s Euro 2024 qualifier between England and Ukraine. Ahead of the game, Saka has spoken on the influence his team-mate has made at club level.

He said: “Zinchenko has brought quality – but he’s brought so much more. You can see how he plays and how he controls the game. He’s an outstanding player.

“He has great leadership qualities, so he’s really helping us on all fronts. They (Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus) have brought that winning mentality to us as players who have been there and won the league.

“In difficult moments they know how it feels, they can encourage us because we have a lot of young players. They really help us with the mental side of things.”

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Zinchenko is one of the poster boys for the Ukraine team as his country continues to be at war with Russia. Saka says that makes the 26-year-old’s performances this season even more special.

He added: “No one can ever understand what Oleks is going through. He’s a man of incredible mental strength.

“To be able to get his mind on the game and to perform so well for Arsenal and his country is a big credit to him. He’s got a bit of fire about him and he uses it in ways that help him.

“I haven’t had any conversations with him about the war, but if he wants to speak about it, I’m here to listen and to help him in any way I can. Oleks is a character. He’s my team-mate – but not on Sunday.”

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