Duvan Zapata profile
Name: Duván Esteban Zapata Banguera
D.O.B.: 4 January 1991 (age 22)
Current club: Estudiantes de la Plata (Argentina)
Born in Cali in western Colombia, Zapata joined the youth ranks of hometown club America de Cali as an 11-year-old and, after making his debut in 2008, went on to rack up over sixty appearances for Los Diablos Rojos. Although his tally of eight goals may not seem that impressive, he nevertheless gained great experience as a teenager playing for one of Colombian’s biggest clubs.
Following his performances for the under-20 national team, Zapata joined Argentinian side Estudiantes on loan in the summer of 2011. He notched five goals in 11 appearances and el Pincha took up the option to buy him for a fee of around $1.2million.
Last season was something of a breakthrough for Zapata. Handed a more prominent role, Duvan repaid the faith shown in him with 16 goals in 33 games, truly marking his arrival as one of the most promising youngsters in the Primera division.
In terms of playing style, Zapata is built in the mold of a traditional centre forward and it’s unsurprising that these attributes attracted interest from England (notably West Ham & QPR) before signing for Napoli. His key qualities are his strength, his ability to hold the ball up and bring others into play and his aerial presence. However, he is not merely a powerful battering ram as he has good footwork – displayed by his well-taken goal v Atletico Madrid – and is an instinctive finisher inside the penalty box.
Fans would be wise to temper any hopes of Zapata taking the league by storm straight away though. While he has undoubted talent, he is still very much a diamond in the rough and the transition to European football can be tough when making the direct switch across the Atlantic. Chances will be fairly limited with the likes of Higuain, Pandev & Insigne ahead of him but his golazo against Marseille shows that he is capable of stepping up when needed.
There has been talk of him staking a claim for a World Cup place with Colombia but I think this is somewhat premature. He is yet to be capped for the senior side and is probably sixth or seventh in the pecking order behind the likes of Falcao, Jackson Martinez, Muriel, Bacca, Pabon and Teo Gutierrez. Having said that, an impressive season with Napoli plus some good fortune could see him make a late charge for a spot in the Cafateros squad.
Napoli fans certainly have an exciting prospect on their hands and someone who could turn into a fantastic player. However, due to his age, relative inexperience and rough edges his development needs to be handled with care. Given the time to flourish, Zapata could well be a great investment and will definitely add a different dynamic to the Partenopei frontline.