Date: 17th June 2011 at 5:59pm
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Udinese centre back Cristian Zapata told Colombian radio station La Fm that there is interest from Liverpool:

“I have some options. Bayern Munich and Liverpool are two real possibilities for me. We are pretty close to those clubs and those are my options and I hope they come true. I haven’t heard much from Arsenal, that possibility seems to be at a standstill at the moment. The Liverpool option is the most serious one.”

Whether he is actually the Reds’ primary target we will have to see, but what do we know about the Colombian?

Zapata started out life with Deportivo Cali in the Primera A in his native country and his impressive displays got him a call up to Colombian U20 squad for the 2005 World Youth Championships. At the tournament he helped Colombia to the last 16 where they lost outto Argentina.

Impressing a both club and international level, Italian Serie A club Udinese bid for the player, along with his Deportivo Cali club mate Abel Aguilar, and he moved to Italy for the start of the 2005/06 season. Zapata had only played 17 league games back home for Deportivo Cali, and despite being relatively inexperienced aged just 18, he became a regular in the Italian club’s side.

After 20 league appearances in his first season, he made 35 starts in Serie A in the following 2006/07 campaign. In 2007 he made his international debut for Colombia and was awarded a new contract in October 2007 to keep him in Udine until the summer of 2012.

Described as a strong, athletic and quick defender, he is also versatile and can play at right back as well as in his favoured centre half position. He also two footed although his right side is his strongest. At 6ft 2, he is a relatively tall defender but has an excellent jump to win a disproportionate amount of headers. He’s also an efficient passer and a good tackler.

Named in many Italian football website’s team of the season, Zapata is now 24 and beginning to develop into a top class centre half. Only having 12 caps for Colombia may however hamper any move to the Reds as he will need to have played 75% of internationals in the last year to qualify for a work permit, although nobody quite seems to know whether he currently has dual nationality by possessing an Italian passport. If you have any information on this please place your info in the comments section below.

Here’s a clip of Zapata’s performance versus AC Milan this season, thanks to RedNigerian:

[youtube GPr0XDukuaA&lc=FqXOzYp5tqRgtzns9nYWAWvpMjWHc5KZWBPhp7D2lZ4&feature=inbox]

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