Goal.com Profile: Juan Zuniga

Goal.com’s Adrian Del Monte reviews the career of a possible, future star of world football, who today completed his transfer from Siena to Napoli...
Personal Details:

Name: Juan Camilo Zuniga

Date Of Birth: December 14, 1985 (age 23)

Place Of Birth: Colombia

Playing Position: Right-Back

Clubs: Atletico Nacional Medellin (2002-2008), Siena (2008-2009)

International: Colombia (2005-2009)

Humble Beginnings

Juan Camilo Zuniga was born and raised in Colombia, and at the age of just 16, he made his debut for Atletico Nacional Medellin in the Futbol Profesional Colombiano. He managed to hold his own in his first few appearances for the club, however as is the case with any player these days, he did come under scrutiny for various reasons.

Zuniga currently stands at just 172cm, so his short stature was an issue early on for him. He was criticised for his inability to challenge in the air, and for his poor jumping and heading skills. Not much was expected of the pint-sized right-back, however to his credit, he certainly has proved his critics wrong over time.

Bursting Onto The Scene

Juan Zuniga undoubtedly made a name for himself at the 2005 Under-20 World Youth Cup, when he led his Colombia side to a top place finish in their group. In fact, the Colombians failed to concede a single goal in their first three matches of the tournament, as they finished with a maximum nine points following three victories against Syria, Canada and Italy.

From this point, the talented defender was an internationally known figure, however somewhat surprisingly it took three years for a European club to make their move. In the summer of 2008, Siena from the Italian Serie A purchased the rights to the player, for a fee of around €3 million, which certainly was a bargain at the time.

Zuniga is an attacking minded defender, whilst also being extremely solid at the back, something that assisted the Bianconeri in having the best defensive record outside the top five clubs last season. In fact, the Tuscan-based outfit conceded just 44 times in the 2008/09 campaign, only a few more than the likes of Juventus, Fiorentina and Genoa.

He is a confident player when in possession of the ball, one who certainly is ready to move to a big club in Italy or even abroad in Europe. He has the potential to be a star of world football, and for this reason he will be an extremely significant loss to Siena.

Italian Interest

Understandably, the consistency of this player has attracted fellow Serie A sides, most notably Milan, Juventus and Napoli, three clubs that have been strongly linked with acquiring the services of the 23-year-old at some stage this summer. Zuniga’s pace, control with the ball, and ability to also play in the midfield would make him a great addition to any of these squads.

The Rossoneri and the Partenopei reportedly met with Siena to discuss the future of the Colombian, however it was Napoli who won the race for his signature. The transfer became official on Thursday, July 9.

Did You Know?

- The Italian press labelled Zuniga as the heir to Cafu and Roberto Carlos during the Under-20 World Youth Cup.

Adrian Del Monte, Goal.com