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Newcastle: Dan Ashworth avoided a blunder with Duvan Zapata

Newcastle United smashed their club-record transfer in the summer window by bringing in Alexander Isak from Real Sociedad for a reported fee of £63m.

The Sweden international has enjoyed an impressive start to life on Tyneside with two goals in three Premier League appearances for the club to date, scoring against Liverpool and Bournemouth.

He has averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.97 and created three chances in total – starting to showcase why the Magpies opted to bring him in for a record fee.

His early form suggests that Dan Ashworth’s decision to sign him was a shrewd one and, hopefully, he will continue to prove that to be true in the upcoming months and years.

However, it could have been different for Newcastle as Isak was not the only centre-forward on the club’s radar throughout the summer window.

Back in July, it was reported that the Magpies were one of a number of clubs eyeing up Colombian Duvan Zapata as a potential target.

This came after Newcastle attempted to sign the striker on loan from Atalanta with an obligation to sign him permanently in the January transfer window.

In the end, Dan Ashworth avoided a swoop for the centre-forward and the Serie A club ended up keeping hold of the experienced predator for the 2022/23 season.

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Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson celebrates with Joelinton

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Since then, Zapata has endured a difficult start to the campaign as he is yet to get off the mark in front of goal in his first four Serie A appearances. The striker has averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.65 and only completed 66% of his attempted passes in the Italian top-flight, which shows that his performances have been underwhelming as well as his goal return.

This comes after he managed one goal and zero assists in his last 13 outings in the 2021/22 campaign and he has not scored in any of his last 17 matches for Colombia – dating back to 2020.

The £56k-per-week dud has scored once in 2022 for club and country and appears to be on the decline in his career, after turning 31 back in April.

His former team-mate Papu Gomez once claimed that the striker’s shorts look like underwear” and this suggests that he has the physicality to suit playing in the Premier League, but his goalscoring record in 2022 is – quite simply – not good enough.

Therefore, signing Isak – who is nine years younger than Zapata – was a masterstroke by Ashworth as he avoided a big blunder by not bringing in the Atalanta man – whose record suggests that he would have struggled badly in the final third in the English top-flight.