Indeed, Arsenal were acutely linked with a move for Zapata two summers ago, then again last year – with the Udinese defender explicitly indicating Arsenal were one of a plethora of elite European clubs showing interest – and, this year, reports in Italy again suggested Cristian was attracting attention.
Wenger is thought to be a keen admirer and, with the defensive hunt ongoing, the reports coming out of Italy seem reasonable; Real Madrid, Milan, Juventus and Fiorentina also amongst the clubs allegedly monitoring the situation at the Stadio Friuli. But is he a worthwhile signing? Well, yes.
Still only 23-years-old, he is both highly-rated and highly versatile. Equally adept as a full-back (both left and right) and a centre-back, he would offer a valuable and flexible option. Certainly, tall, strong and comfortable with both feet, Zapata could make a fine partner for Thomas Vermaelen. A dependable mainstay in the Udinese side, he’s made over 100 league appearances in Serie A despite his relative youth.
With Laurent Koscielny already signed from Lorient, things look to be taking shape at the Emirates. Following last season and, indeed, the recent exodus, clearly defensive strengthening was, and remains, central. Given his age, flexibility and strength, Cristian Zapata could (finally, after three summers of speculation) be another shrewd addition.
In the words of a distinguished Manchester band, ‘this story is old, I know, but it goes on…’
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