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Friday August 17 2012
Zapata worthy of Milan

Milan surprised many with the sudden signing of Cristian Zapata, but Dylan Fahy argues it is an extremely shrewd move.

The modern day football enthusiast has quickly become accustomed to weeks, if not months, of constant speculation and back-and-forth between respective parties before a transfer can be fully completed. That being said, when Cristian Zapata walked through the doors of Milan’s purpose built training headquarters several kilometres outside of Varese last week, followers of the game around the peninsula were thrown off guard slightly. 

Milan have had a summer transfer campaign to forget following the mass exodus of legendary players last May. The Rossoneri’s concrete central defensive partnership of Alessandro Nesta and his apparent heir Thiago Silva has been shattered, with the latter’s money move to Paris Saint-Germain a particularly bitter pill to swallow for the team’s supporters.

After giving up on their pursuit of Montpellier captain Yanga-Mbiwa for the time being, Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani and his team quickly turned their attention to capturing the Colombian. The 25-year-old completed a medical and agreed personal terms before several influential media outlets had even broken the story of a proposed move.  

Zapata’s career has stalled drastically following a switch to Villarreal from Udinese last year. After beginning the 2011-12 season in the Champions League, the Yellow Submarine sank with their relegation confirmed on the final day of La Liga last term. The defender’s agent, Massimo Italiani, immediately issued a statement confirming his client would leave, with Italy an unlikely destination.  Whispers from Spain suggested the player was on his way to England and the Premier League at the very start of August, with Everton and West Brom battling it out for his signature.  

In desperate need of reinforcements, the 2011 Serie A champions sealed the former Friulani man on a season long loan with an option to buy him outright next June. The transfer was certainly a shrewd piece of business, perhaps even rivalling the signing of the club’s second top scorer last season – Antonio Nocerino, bought from Palermo for just €500,000.

Zapata has all the attributes of a European pedigree centre-half, with an excellent eye for an interception and an imposing aerial battler. A stalwart of the Udinese side that qualified for the Champions League two years ago, the Colombian international has a history of endurance – playing the full 90 minutes of his last 10 Villarreal matches.

One from Francesco Acerbi and Philippe Mexes are lined up to start alongside him in Milan Coach Massimiliano Allegri’s rejuvenated side, spearheaded by a youthful attack. Zapata will have to act as one of the team’s leaders from the back, despite only recently joining up with the team.

Potentially replacing Silva would be a momentous task, but the man himself is not fazed by the challenge and only time will tell what he is capable of in a Milan shirt.  “Being Thiago Silva’s ‘heir’ does not weigh on me. I’m not remotely frightened of the pressure that comes with that. I’m here to prove I am worthy of Milan.” 

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Have your say...
I'm mainly confused as to why Milan didn't offload Robinho when Santos offered them money for him. He has been a terrible buy.
on the 20th August, 2012 at 10:18am
Milan definetly don't need to sell yet more players. Soon we'll be left with pato and abbiati and that's it! Which probably sounds great but pato spends most of his seasons injured but fully fit for brazil! What a great season this 'great Milan' are lining up! Everyday I come on to this site and see another player in negotiations to leave, when are we going to see negotiating to bring/keep players??? Please no pazzini, he's u wanted at inter for a reason- he's crap!
on the 20th August, 2012 at 12:52am
@Milan Fan

I completely agree with you. Why can't I stop reading rumors that Borriello is coming in to replace Cassano? That would be the worst deal in history. It's so disappointing, last summer we weren't even sure if Cassano would get any time - now he's telling US that he wants to leave? Truly sad... and bringing in Borriello would be disastrous; that guy has nothing to offer. Honestly, I'd rather have Rossi and wait until he was fit.
on the 18th August, 2012 at 3:24pm
Im sick of all this hype about Thiago Silva. Nobody knew who he was 4 years ago. The truth is he is over rated. Yes he is one of best in the world at the moment, but the current generation of centre backs is poor. He is a quality player, but people speak about him like he is a Maldini or a Baresi. 42 million euro? Well done Galliani. Zapata is a good signing. But please dont sign Bentner or Borriello, they are useless. Forza Milan!
on the 18th August, 2012 at 12:30pm
think to the future people. we've spent virtually no money this summer, if we win something, the transfer campaign will have been a great success and if we don't, we've not lost anything. Milan will be the surprise package this year.
on the 18th August, 2012 at 11:50am
It's not the Zapata move that worries me – it's the rumours about Cassano leaving and Boriello coming back. Boriello sucked at Milan, he sucked at Juve, he apparently sucked at Roma. There's no need for him. And why drop Cassano? I don't understand what the rift is there. He's not happy about Ibra and Silva leaving, but surely there's more to it than that? And damn Galliani for being annoyed at Allegri for Milan's loss against Real. He's got no right to after parceling off Ibra and Silva!
on the 18th August, 2012 at 10:23am
"Zapata worthy of Milan"

"...with Everton and West Brom battling it out for his signature."

Surely, one of these statements is incorrect.I cetanly hope he turns out to be a shrewd buy for Milan and that the latters' interest in him was little more than giddy mid-summer optimism because if we are battling it out with the likes of Everton and WBA for players, we have already lost.
on the 18th August, 2012 at 9:44am
@Anonymous

I agree with some of the things you've said. However, bare in mind the "last minute signings" was the reason we won the scudetto two years ago. Pato's verdict hasn't been decided yet? Give the kid a break, hes young and hes been very unfortunate with all hes injuries, when hes fit, hes as good as balotelli, easily.

I still have a lot of faith in El Sharwaay. Dream scenario would if he would work well with pato.
on the 18th August, 2012 at 4:00am
I'm a milan fan through and through its time to wake up and see that this 'new' milan will never reach the heights we did in the 90s. Selling your most prized players and fobbing the fans off by replacing them with old, Past it or players that are just not good enough will not work this time! Bring back borriello- what for? Wev brought him back 3 times, he's crap! Zapata to replace silva, NO! This is the perfect Time to use ITALIAN youth, better risk than borriello/kaka/kapa/mbiwa.. Youth!
on the 17th August, 2012 at 11:56pm
Viktor, a few decent signings (and the jury is still out on Pato) does not make a coherent transfer policy. A coherent policy involves long term signings mixed with youth players. It involves buying players before they peak. One season loans, last minute panic signings of players who are passed their best and signing players because they are available on frees does not make a coherent transfer policy. We have won only 2 league titles since the turn of the century. Maybe we were spoilt in the 90s
on the 17th August, 2012 at 7:53pm
Acerbi is too slow, he will be completely and utterly run around this season. Milan need another CB, and it's a shame the don't have the money for Obonaga. Plus haven't added a defensive mid yet.

Milan will have a horrible defense next year.
on the 17th August, 2012 at 7:37pm
Milan transfer policy isn't the best but yet decent, regardless of this summer's transfers, Milan usually buy unknown players and turn them into stars, and for those that say Ronaldo was not at his best at Milan but have still succeeded before his injury, I believe dede from brazil and strotman from psv, and Rossi from Villarreal would definetly make the team competeive again
on the 17th August, 2012 at 6:45pm
I would really like to see him play alongside Acerbi. People say they weren't impressed with Acerbi, but I saw that he has a great ability to read the game. Now, he isn't fast (in fact, he is incredibly slow), but a fit player like Zapata can compensate for that. Now all Milan needs to do is buy a striker. I would get Rossi, even if I have to wait.
on the 17th August, 2012 at 4:22pm
If Pato can stay fit I don't think Milan will miss Ibra too much. I wish they brought in Dede as a replacement for Thiago, he would of been available for around £15 million and has very similar characteristics to Thiago. As it stands Milan still need a central midfielder who can link the midfield to attack, preferably a left footed one to add balance to the side. Ganso would of been the perfect candidate for me, but seems unlikely.
on the 17th August, 2012 at 3:13pm
@Anonymous

"He got lucky a few times".. Ibra, Thiago, Robinho, Noccerino (for 500 k), Kaka, Pato.. I'd say he'd done better then lucky. Even tho that currently hes efforts are pathetic. Overall Some signings, more then a few glorious onces has been incredible.
on the 17th August, 2012 at 1:54pm
Regardless of whether he is worthy of Milan, this blog doesn't tell anything new. What was the point of this entry? Either way, seasons ago who would have forseen the petulant Cassano ending up at Milan? Give Zapata a chance I say. Milan are not in a position to start filtering players based on their 'worth', we need to sign players to who do the job., such as Yepes. Censor my post at your peril, FI.
on the 17th August, 2012 at 12:19pm
Good buy, he was a very wanted man last summer after a very good spell at udinese but last season has seen him soso, but in a strugling team in a new league one must wonder if that is due to lack of talent from Zapate or the external factors above.

i think it is the latter: he knows Serie A which is very important as most foreigners need a year to adapt to serie a, zapate knows it already and if Allegri can bring the Zapate from Udinese back, Milan have found themselves a steal.
on the 17th August, 2012 at 11:42am
whilst man utd have paid over £20million for a 29 year old grey haired one season wonder, Milan have brought in zapata, muntari, traore, acerbi, montolivo and constant for pennies. acerbi being the only one that actually cost an outright transfer fee. Zapata was one of the best defenders in serie A prior to his move to villarreal and at 25, he still has his best years ahead of him. two footed, can play at full back and a good footballing brain. there is no reason why he can't succeed.
on the 17th August, 2012 at 11:25am
milan make me proud
on the 17th August, 2012 at 11:13am
The result of the above is we are broke and we cannot even afford to re-sign players who used to be in our youth system and should not have cost us a penny. Galliani has to go he is completely incompetent.
on the 17th August, 2012 at 10:54am
Milan's transfer policy has been a total shambles in recent years under Galliani. He has got lucky a few times over the years e.g. Kaka, Thiago Silva, Nocerino, but the majority of the signings fall into 2 categories:
1. Free signings who are signed because they are free e.g. Mexes, Vogel, Dhorason
2. Glory signings are past their best e.g. Ronaldo, Ronaldinho.
The result of the above is we have been paying out large salaries and these signings have also stifled young players e.g. Astori, Matri.
on the 17th August, 2012 at 10:53am

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