Newcastle United are reportedly set to increase their offer for Atalanta’s Colombian international striker Duvan Zapata.
According to reports in Italy, the Magpies had an initial loan bid with a “conditioned obligation to buy” rejected by the Serie A club - but are set to up their offer in order to add the frontman to their squad.
Calcio Mercato have reported United will offer an initial loan fee of around £4.2million and Atalanta want a permanent deal worth around £33million to follow at the end of the season.
NewcastleWorld takes a look at a player that has made a name as a prolific striker over almost a decade in Serie A.
Initial promise leads to English interest
After initially impressing in Colombia’s Primera A with America de Cali, Zapata moved to Argentina’s Estudiantes on loan in July 2011.
The striker continued his moment by firing 19 goals in 44 appearances for the La Plata-based club and began to attract the attention of a number of clubs in Europe.
West Ham United were the first to make a move for Zapata in July 2013 after they agreed a fee with Zapata and his club.
However, then-Hammers manager Sam Allardyce was left disappointed after work permit issues caused the move to fall through.
Co-chairman David Sullivan explained: “He’s not played a single international and our problem is that we couldn’t wait a month so see if we could get a work permit, as we need players now.
“He’s not 18, he’s 22 without a single full international and it’s hard to see how you could bring him under the special talent rule.
“There’s two fantastic players ahead of him. But it all just went on too long and Sam [Allardyce] wanted to use the money elsewhere.”
Zapata would soon be on the move.
A link-up with a former Newcastle United manager
Rafa Benitez succeeded where another former Newcastle manager could not as the Spaniard took advantage of Zapata’s failed move to West Ham by taking the striker to Serie A club Napoli.
After joining the I Partenopei, Zapata told the club website: “I experienced the emotion of the San Paolo and the great passion of the fans straight away.
“I thank the club for this opportunity, for me to play for Napoli is a great joy.”
Despite his initial optimism, Zapata found regular game-time hard to come by - yet still ended his first season in Italy with seven goals in 22 games.
More frustration followed during his second year in Naples as the striker only managed eight goals in 31 appearances in all competitions.
A two-season loan spell with Udinese and a one-year temporary stint at Sampdoria allowed him to further acclimatise in Serie A and led to a permanent move to the latter in August 2017.
Finding a home in Atalanta and going toe-to-toe with Ronaldo
After scoring 11 goals in 32 appearances for Sampdoria, Zapata agreed a two-season loan deal with Atalanta, with an obligation to make the move permanent at the end of the initial agreement.
The striker enjoyed a remarkable first season in Bergamo by plundering his way to 28 goals in 48 goals in all competitions.
The highlights included a brace in a 2-2 draw against eventual champions Juventus and a four-goal blast in a 5-0 win at struggling Frosinone.
Such was his impact, Zapata ended his first season as joint-top scorer in Serie A, with only Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Quagiarella.
That form led to rumour interest from Inter, with Zapata’s agent Fernando Villarreal telling Gazetta dello Sport: “Are Inter interested? They are a very big club, among Italy and the world’s biggest.
“But they are just noises, I can categorically deny that there is an agreement for a transfer to Milan at the end of the season.
“In football you never say never. If there are opportunities for the club and player tomorrow we could talk about it, but right now Duvan’s world is only called Atalanta and he wants to give his best for those colours.”
Making Champions League history
Zapata’s goals had helped Atalanta qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history and he would make his mark in Europe’s elite club competition.
The striker scored his club’s first ever Champions League goal in a 2-1 home defeat against Shakthar Donetsk in October 2019 - but an injury kept him out of the remainder of the group stages.
He returned in a thrilling last-16 tie against Valencia as his side secured a quarter-final place with a 7-5 aggregate win - but hopes of progressing further were ended by a 2-1 defeat against Paris Saint-Germain.
Once again, Zapata shone in Serie A with 18 goals in 28 games to help his side secure Champions League qualification once again with a third-place finish.
By the end of the 2019/20 season when his loan spell came to an end, the Colombian had struck 47 goals in 81 appearances.
The move was made permanent as Atalanta secured the striker’s future by handing over a fee of around £11million to add to the loan fee of £12.6million they had paid Sampdoria two years earlier.
After the permanent move was completed, Zapata said: “I’m very happy.
“First of all I want to thank Atalanta for this further demonstration of confidence in me.
“We are building something important and can achieve great things together.”
Former Newcastle favourite urges Zapata to look elsewhere
Zapata became the first Colombian player to reach a century of goals in Serie A in October last year when he netted in a 4-1 win at Empoli.
But a fellow countryman that had become a cult figure in Italy and at Newcastle has urged the striker to look elsewhere in a bid to find on-field success.
Speaking ahead of the permanent switch Zapata made to Atalanta, former Magpies striker Faustino Asprilla told Gazzetta dello Sport : “It is time for you to go to a bigger team if you want to win multiple titles taking advantage of the good soccer moment that he is living.
“Well why not?.
“Until a few years ago, I would have struggled to believe it, so it definitely exploded.
“And honestly, I was surprised.
“He is 29 years old, he is in the best period of his career.
“With due respect, I don’t think Atalanta can go beyond third place: if he wanted to win something, he should at least consider changing teams.”
As it stands, Zapata has an impressive record of 78 goals in 152 games in all competitions for Atalanta - including 12 goals in 22 appearances during the current season.
Whether he gets a chance to extend that record or follow the move to Tyneside Tino made almost 27 years ago remains to be seen.