When Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus left Manchester City for Arsenal last summer, it was a new start for all parties involved. The former City duo have been instrumental to Arsenal resurgence this season.
Gabriel Jesus has been out of action since his injury while on international duty with Brazil at the World Cup. But helping the team kickstart what's now proving to be a memorable campaign, the striker will be making his input to the side even from the sidelines.
Zinchenko on his part has been on fire since moving to the Emirates Stadium. The midfielder-turned left-back has been one of Arteta’s key men, helping the Gunners maintain their spot at the top of the table. That has coincided with City’s struggle to keep up with the pace.
The surprising turn of events has led some to question the decision to sell the two players at the same time to Arsenal. With the London side set to take on City in the FA Cup, Guardiola was asked in the pre-match press conference if he regretted letting the two players leave, especially to a direct rival.
But just as he has said when addressing the issue before, the City boss remains adamant that the decision was the right one for both parties. His main reason is the fact that both players had wanted to leave the club for quite some time. As manager, he and the club merely granted their wish.
The 52-year-old maintains that that was best for everyone involved. He believes a player is better off elsewhere if that’s where their heart is. The circumstances leading up to the sale of the players to Arsenal necessitated the move.
The players wanted the move and Arsenal were ready to pay the money. So City had no choice but to sanction the deal.
“Many times Oleks could leave and say want to stay, stay, stay and he stay. And Gabriel was the same and we agreed because it was a lot of years, they need a new challenge, Arsenal want them, this time they leave," Guardiola stated.
“It is going well for them, congratulations. We have to try and beat them, be close to them, tomorrow and the season in the future.”
At this point City cannot be sulking about letting players go that were more or less surplus to requirements, particularly Gabriel Jesus.
The arrival of Erling Haaland meant Jesus’ already insufficient playing time would be reduced even more if he stayed back. Much like Zinchenko, the Brazilian wanted regular game time, and that was something Guardiola could not give him.
With those demands now met, both players are reborn at Arsenal. Adding them to the squad alongside implementing a few other changes seems to have worked magic for Arteta.
But Guardiola and City cannot look at that with regret. The team must focus on its own objectives for the season and work to achieve them.