Bukayo Saka says he’s ready to help Oleksandr Zinchenko in any way he can, except during their game on Sunday afternoon.
Arsenal teammates Bukayo Saka and Oleksandr Zinchenko both got called up for international duty over the March break, with Saka linking up with England and Zinchenko with Ukraine.
But that puts the two players on opposite sides for Sunday’s match between the two countries.
If both of them are in the starting lineup, they could even end up directly competing with each other. After all, Saka plays as a right winger, and Zinchenko is a left-back.
But there are no guarantees. Firstly, Saka started England’s previous game against Italy, and it’s possible Gareth Southgate will rotate him out.
Zinchenko is almost certain to start, but he may be in midfield, as that’s the role he often plays for his country.
Speaking about his club teammate ahead of the game, Saka had plenty of positive things to say, particularly given the circumstances in Zinchenko’s home country.
“No one can ever understand what Oleks is going through,” Saka said.
“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.”
On that subject, Saka said that though he hasn’t spoken to Zinchenko about the war, he’s ready to do so if necessary.
The England youngster insists he’s here for his teammate whenever he needs help, except on Sunday afternoon.
“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.”