Journalist Pete O’Rourke has suggested that the Colombia international could be a better fit than former target Hugo Ektike for what Eddie Howe needs next season.
When asked if he would be a better option than the Frenchman, O’Rourke told Football FanCast: “Yeah, I think obviously Ekitike was somebody with huge potential and a lot of buzz about him, but there’s no guarantee that he’s gonna come in and hit the ground running because he’s still a really young player as well with room to develop.”
“But yeah, Zapata, as I said, I think he’s a proven player. He’s played at the highest level. I’m sure he’s someone who would definitely add to that Newcastle attack and ease the goalscoring burden on Callum Wilson and I think somebody like that is what Newcastle need right now if they are to push up the table and have a good season.”
Eddie Howe can now land a dream deal by securing a swoop to sign Zapata from Atalanta ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
Ekitike has only scored 14 goals in his senior career and he is yet to prove that he can perform over the course of multiple season. By contrast, the Serie A predator is a proven, consistent scorer who can come straight in and hit the ground running, as O’Rourke has hinted.
His former team-mate Papu Gomez once hailed his physique, saying: “Zapata’s shorts look like underwear, he is so big. Sometimes I don’t even want to get close to him in a match because he’s a beast and it hurts. When he is feeling good he’s like a train – you throw the ball forward and ‘ciao!’ ”
These comments and his goalscoring statistics suggest that he will be a handful for opposition defenders. He has scored 79 goals in 162 outings for Atalanta and 106 goals in 257 Serie A appearances, which shows that he has the quality to score goals on a regular basis at the top level.
Therefore, he would be a dream signing for Howe, as he is an experienced operator who can make an instant impact in the Premier League next season.
Whilst he may not have the potential of a 20-year-old Ekitike, Zapata would come to St James’ Park as a known quantity, and someone on whom the head coach can rely at the top of the pitch in the immediate future.