The Chalkboard: Duvan Zapata showed exactly why Palace want him in Colombia cameo

According to The Sun (print edition 19/5, page 63) via HITC , Crystal Palace could swoop for Atalanta hitman Duvan Zapata this summer as they look to freshen up the front line ahead of the 2019/20 campaign, and his recent cameo for the Colombian national team in just nine minutes showed exactly what he’s capable of.

On the chalkboard

The Eagles have been severely lacking an aggressive focal point up front, with Wilfried Zaha the only forward capable of holding the ball up – the Ivorian is far better facing goal than he is with his back to it, though, and he desperately needs to be relieved of those duties.

Injuries and a lack of confidence threaten to curtail Christian Benteke’s career at Selhurst Park this summer, while Alexander Sorloth doesn’t look up to the pace of the Premier League – neither want to attack the ball in the box and the likes of Andros Townsend and the aforementioned Zaha recycle the play and create opportunities using triangles on the edge of the box instead.

There’s never anyone there for that low cross and Palace are crying out for a striker who excels at getting between the centre-backs to tap home, while also being big and quick enough to be an asset when the Eagles look to hit their opponents on the break.

Zapata’s late substitute appearance in Los Cafeteros’ 2-0 victory over Argentina in the Copa America showed he can be exactly that, if his record of 23 goals and chalking up seven assists for the Bergamo outfit last term wasn’t impressive enough.

Immediate impact

The 28-year-old replaced captain Radamel Falcao in the 81st minute, with Colombia leading 1-0 via Roger Martinez, and tore the Argentina defence to shreds.

The big number 7 completed two dribbles in his short time on the pitch and both of his attempted passes found the mark, but it was his positioning and reactions for the goal that really stood out.

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The 6 ft 2 powerhouse ghosted between the Argentine centre-back pairing and reacted perfectly to poke home a ball fired across the six-yard box – a strike that gave his side a memorable win. This willingness to get into the right areas where the ball is going to be is something every great striker has to have and it’s something that cannot be attributed to any of Palace’s current options.

Unless Benteke can start showing this kind of hunger to score, then he’ll never repay the £27m that the Eagles shelled out to sign him from Liverpool in 2o16.

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