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Chelsea left it late on the transfer deadline day to strengthen the squad, but they did manage to sign two players before the summer transfer window closed.
Midfielder Danny Drinkwater arrived from Leicester City for a fee of £35million, along with right-back Davide Zappacosta who signed from Italian Serie A side Torino for a fee believed to be £23million. While the fans know what they can expect from Drinkwater, having seen him play in the Premier League, the defender, who will be giving competition to Victor Moses for the right wing-back slot, was a relatively unknown quantity to the fan base.
And here we bring you a lowdown on Zappacosta and what he will be adding to the current Premier League champions’ squad.
Born on 11 June 1992, in Sora, Italy, Zappacosta joined local side Sora’s academy in 1998 at the age of six years. Having spent 10 years at the academy, he moved to Isola Liri, where he joined up with the U-20 side, before making his senior debut for the club in the 2009-10 season.
In January 2011, the Italian was signed up by Atalanta on a co-ownership deal with Isola Liri. He spent his first six months with the Primavera side but was loaned out to Avellino in August the same year. Having impressed in his 27 appearances for the club, the deal was made a permanent one in the summer of 2012, albeit on a co-ownership basis between Atalanta and Avellino.
He made 27 appearances in the Serie C in the 2012/13 season, scoring his first goal for Avellino, helping the club to a promotion to the Serie B. He made 36 appearances the following season, scoring and assisting 2 goals each. Impressed by his displays, Atalanta brought him back into the fold in July 2014 on a four-year deal. He made his debut for the club in a Coppa Italia game in August 2014, before going on to make his Serie A debut in the same month.
Zappacosta impressed in his first full season with Atalanta, scoring three times and assisting one in 30 games in all competitions, prompting Torino to sign him in the summer of 2015. In his debut season for the Turin based outfit, the right-back made 26 appearances scoring one and assisting one goal, but went on to impress in the 2016/17 campaign, as he found the back of the net once and chalked up 5 assists from 29 Serie A games. He had played three times in the ongoing season for Torino before Chelsea came calling on Thursday.
Zappacosta represented the Italy U-21 side 21 times, having made his debut for the team in September 2013. In May 2016, then Italy manager and now the Chelsea boss, Antonio Conte, called him up as a part of the 30-man Italy squad for the UEFA Euro 2016 but left him out from the final 23 who made the trip. The 25-year old made his debut for the Azzurri in November 2016 in the World Cup Qualifiers against Liechtenstein and has played four times ever since.
A modern day full-back in all sense, Zappacosta started out as a striker in his youth days but found his home at right-back during his tenure with Avellino and Atalanta.
He has made his name for his ability to contribute to his team while going forward down the right-hand side, with energy and vigour. The Italy international has looked extremely comfortable playing as a wing-back and has even been used as an advanced winger on a number of occasions.
The energy and the stamina he brings to the table would be a perfect fit in the high-octane, intense football in the Premier League. Decent speed, ability to carry the ball effectively and good at crossing the ball into the box, Zappacosta has the skills needed to excel in the wing-back slot for the Blues.
The 25-year old may not be the strongest of the tacklers, but he has displayed enough defensive nous and positional awareness, that he can be entrusted with providing solidity at the back.
Zappacosta has been a consistent performer in the Serie A in the past two years and is someone who Conte has known and seen from close quarters before. With a serious lack of backups in the wing-back positions, the four-time capped Italy international will add some much-needed depth to the ranks, especially with the UEFA Champions League to play for.