Out of nowhere on Deadline Day in Europe, Chelsea landed Italian wingback Davide Zappacosta from Torino for €25m plus bonuses. But is he the man the Blues needed?
While London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham were active on Deadline Day to close the summer transfer window out strong, Chelsea managed to lock down a few additions of their own, one of them being Azzurri international Davide Zappacosta. For 25 million euros plus bonuses, it was a fee too irresistible to pass up for Urbano Cairo and Torino who will undoubtedly miss the 25-year old’s tenacity on the right flank this season.
Shortly after news reached the public, avid watchers of the Italian top flight came to the support of Zappacosta’s London switch, reassuring supporters they had landed a quality talent. Many inside Chelsea’s fanbase, however, still remain split on the former Atalanta defender and whether he is the right player to lock down the right flank or not. The window is closed for business, and now the question becomes: is Zappacosta the man for Chelsea and their quest for a repeat?
One of Serie A’s best wingbacks last year, Zappacosta is the archetypal Antonio Conte player in a wide role; a tirelessly hardworking individual born to run, and with a sacrificial attitude to leave it all on the pitch. Pacy and with above-average crossing ability, the Italian’s runs capped with whipped in balls will be welcomed in Conte’s starting XI, making expensive signing Alvaro Morata one of the attacking force’s prime beneficiaries.
Conte is ‘grinta-personified’ and has constantly reiterated the importance of suffering out on the pitch throughout his entire coaching career. Any player who expects to succeed under him must commit and ultimately trust in his methods. Like many others, Zappacosta bought in, and it’s one of main reasons why he was rewarded with a call-up to the senior side last May in preparation for the UEFA European Championships. Offensively, Zappacosta is qualified to play on the right in Conte’s 3-4-3 formation. Defensively, improvement is needed, and Conte is up for the challenge.
Zappacosta’s proven that even when, at times, drifting too far up the pitch, there is a desire to assist on the ensuing counter. As a flex-right wingback, he is deployable in both a three and four-man defensive shape. During the 16-17 campaign under Siniša Mihajlovic, defensively speaking, Zappacosta suffered to impress. Much of that, however, could’ve be attributed to owner Urbano Cairo completely stripping Toro’s structured, well-mannered unit down to its bare bones last summer by selling opposite flankman Bruno Peres and the sturdy central pairing of Nikola Maksimovic and Kamil Glik. As time passed, and the demand for cover became ever apparent, Zappacosta improved his defensive game.
Intentions to round out his game are there for the emerging Italian. As long as Zappacosta allows Conte’s motivational tactics to work their magic, and leans on the likes of David Luiz, Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta to properly on-board him to the English style of football, the steep fee spent on Deadline Day for his talents will be money well spent.
Considering the going rate in the current market for players of his kind, and the Londoners deficiency out wide, Zappacosta could become yet another disciple of Conte’s man-moulding coaching mentality.