Newcastle United: Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata is new target

NEWCASTLE UNITED are weighing up a fresh move for Colombian forward Duvan Zapata after shelving their interest in Moussa Diaby and Alexander Isak.

Diaby has been the Magpies’ number one target throughout the summer, but despite a final attempt to persuade Bayer Leverkusen to reduce their €60m asking price for the France international, Newcastle’s recruitment team have been unable to negotiate a compromise they would be willing to accept .

Even if they had been able to agree to a fee with Leverkusen for the winger, it was feared his wage demands would have scuppered a potential anyway.

Talks over Isak have also stalled, with Real Sociedad seemingly unwilling to sell the Sweden international, whose buyout clause is set a level way above what Newcastle would be willing to pay for his services.

With Eddie Howe still keen to sign a forward and a wide attacker before the transfer window closes, the Magpies hierarchy are reassessing their options.

Armanda Broja remains a leading target, but Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is currently showing no signs that he is ready to make a decision over the Albanian’s future ahead of the new campaign. Tuchel has concluded that he wants to keep Conor Gallagher as part of his first-team squad next term, but is still weighing up what to do with Broja, who showed signs of considerable potential during last season’s loan spell at Southampton.

Zapata is regarded as a viable attacking option, and Newcastle officials are hoping to sound out Atalanta’s position over the South American in the next few days.

Newcastle looked into recruiting Zapata in January, but were quoted an £8m loan fee with the potential for a £35m permanent transfer this summer. At the time, the Magpies felt that it was too much for the striker, who turned 31 in January, and they opted to sign Chris Wood instead.

Zapata did not have a particularly effective second half of the season – he ended the last Serie A campaign with ten league goals – and the Italian media have suggested Atalanta are willing to drop their asking price significantly in order to pave the way for a deal.

The Colombian’s current employers are understood to have offered him to Inter Milan earlier this summer as part of an exchange deal for Andrea Pinamonti, but talks between the two clubs broke down.

That suggests Zapata does not form part of their long-term plans though, and there is a chance Newcastle could seal a deal for around £20m this summer.

That remains a hefty fee to pay for a player in their 30s, but Zapata has been a proven performer at the highest level in Italy for a number of years now. He joined Napoli in 2013, and had successful loan spells with Udinese and Sampdoria before initially joining Atalanta on a temporary basis in 2018. A haul of 23 goals from 37 Serie A appearances persuaded Atalanta to sign him permanently, and he has been a key factor in the club’s subsequent strong performances in the Champions League.

If a deal is not finalized in the next fortnight, Howe will get the chance to see Zapata at first hand when Newcastle host Atalanta in their penultimate pre-season friendly on Friday, July 29.

Newcastle are in pre-season action later this afternoon when they take on German side 1860 Munich at the Saalfelden Arena Burgerau in Austria.

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