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Report: Duvan Zapata signing contract extension before Udinese loan

The Colombian striker has signed a new five-year contract in advance of spending two years away on loan.

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One of the most confusingly-handled parts of the Napoli side over the last two years, Duvan Zapata was rightfully annoyed with the club at the end of the season. Despite having obvious and significant physical gifts that he used to great effect almost every time he played, Zapata was hardly ever utilized by Napoli's last manager.

Zapata made noises about wanting out early in the summer, but Napoli were loathe to give up such a bright talent. New manager Maurizio Sarri was apparently able to mollify Zapata's concerns, and he and sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli came up with a creative solution -- while Napoli couldn't offer Zapata the playing time he wanted this season, with Gonzalo Higuain still in the side, they would find Zapata a favorable loan so he could get the time on the pitch he needed while keeping him in Napoli's long-term plans.

That loan wound up being with Udinese, where he'll be part of the complicated part exchange that will see Napoli land Allan for their midfield. Zapata will spend the next two seasons at Udinese honing his craft and, hopefully, playing a ton of minutes. And if he does well enough, Napoli can break the loan after a year and bring him back into the fold.

Udinese have had a hard time at striker the last few years, with the admirable Antonio Di Natale getting slowed by age and the zebrette struggling to find him a partner and heir apparent. While Zapata obviously won't be that heir in this loan deal, he gives them a lot of cushion to work with in the meantime, and a very talented striker to work with in the meantime.

Better for Napoli, they'll get Zapata further developed, and they got him to sign a new contract until 2020 before getting everything finalized. That gives them a strong position, because as things stood, Zapata only would have had one more year on his contract when he returned after two years. That would have left Napoli in an awkward position of risking losing him for nothing after another year if they couldn't get him re-signed, but fortunately, they've dodged that bullet and will have all the leverage when Zapata returns.

This is a great move for both player and club. It's early days, but it's hard not to be impressed by Giuntoli's work so far running Napoli's transfers.