In recent years, specialisation in coaching has become ever more granular, from set-pieces – defensive and attacking, to individual performance coaches, and much more besides.
The football world raised eyebrows when Liverpool brought in Thomas Gronnemark, a former Danish bobsleigh athlete to be their throw-in coach, but increasingly clubs and managers are looking for anything which will give them marginal gains in the competitive landscape of the Premier League and beyond.
So it should come as no surprise to learn that Mikel Arteta and Arsenal are set to appoint a new specialist to the coaching staff at the end of this season.
Arseblog News can exclusively reveal that the manager has personally selected a former Barcelona academy player, Joan-Carlos Zapato to become the club’s new ‘Head of Kicking’.
Arteta and Zapato spent some years together at La Masia, but while the former went on to have a long professional playing career, his compatriot never quite made the grade and has built a career as a coach.
He started working with regional Spanish clubs, including Recreativo Granada, Rayo Majadahonda, Vilanova i la Geltru, and Pontevedra, before spending the last eight years as a specialist consultant to sides like Levante, Racing Santander, and Deportiva la Coruna (where he worked with former Gunner Lucas Perez).
Having suffered an injury as a youngster which subsequently impacted the way he could kick the ball, he became obsessed with the biomechanics of the foot and how small changes to technique could have an effect on the power and accuracy that footballers produce.
He studied for a first class masters degree in Athletic Medicine at Princeton, specialising in Nonprehensile Transverse Navicularitis, related to the arch of the foot and how it can be honed and strengthened by athletes.
An Arsenal source told us, “Mikel is constantly on the lookout for ways he can improve his team.
“Whether that’s via transfer market, man management, team bonding days or additions to his coaching staff, he’ll explore every conceivable avenue.
“He is convinced that Joan-Carlos can benefit the players. If a striker can whack a shot at goal with an extra few miles per hour behind it, or someone creative like Martin Odegaard can improve his technique further to bend it even better than Beckham, then it will be worth it as far as he’s concerned.”
This season, set-piece coach Nicolas Jover has made a really positive contribution with the Gunners yet to concede from a corner, as well as proving dangerous when taking free kicks and corners up the other end.
Arteta – and Arsenal fans – will be hoping that Zapato can do likewise when he joins this summer on culmination of his short-term deal with Real Zueco.
Hahahah the legend who coached Lucas Perez’s fantastic kicking. What a fillip for the team.
Good one, blogs! A bit early for those of us on the other side of the Atlantic.
Other clubs might think of this as fools play, but they’ll be kicking themselves not to have gotten to this guy first. Good start to the month for us
We’ll be an absolute shoe-in for the title next season, at this rate!
Some rivals will mock, but if the boot was on the other foot…
100% April Fools, almost had me
Nonsense. I was just in Spain the other week watching Zueco play. It was impressive, feet like traction engines on all of them. That’s the sort of thing that you only get with good coaching. Opposing goalkeepers will be filling their boots watching the shots fly at them next season, just you watch!
It would be absolutely foolish not have filled this position out. Locking down the deal at the start of the month before the summer is an another Arteta masterclass. Wonder if he can get started with the team remotely April itself!
Hopefully he can sort out Partey’s long range shooting 😂
I heard the club was convinced to hire him after he offered to work with Thomas Partey last week. The result was instant: Partey scored against Nigeria with his first shot from about 20 yards.
You had me in the first half blogs. Well played
Blogs had me til the end. The comment section saved me.
Never let us down blogs, you literary genius. 😂
Here for the comments
This is an April’s fool joke.
Yes, yes it is, Captain Obvious.
😂 Absolute lightening, this lad.
Like Lacazette wading through treacle…
Excellent choice, I guess that injury was the 1st day(!!!!!!) of the rest of his fun filled life, and turned him into the joker he’s become.
One of the best parts of Bergkamps book was the recounting of how he developed his striking technique through countless hours kicking tennis balls to study the effect of the spin on the ball. Through his commitment he came to harness the power of the golden ratio. You see in nature all things are drawn towards balance and harmony, and the golden ratio is the pinnacle of that. By spinning the ball within the golden ratio, Dennis acquired the golden spin and with that conquered the foot-ball-run. It would not have been possible without his time spent in Italy with… Read more »
dennis bergkamp pizza mozzarella-rella-rella-rella-rella-rella-rella’d his way to become one of the greatest playmakers of all time, what a legend
Didn’t Marlon Brando star in the film about them? Viva Zapato!
A Mexican bandit, nice one Andrew.
Following the footsteps of, of course, Brentford (who else). https://bartektraining.com/
Haha, you got that one in early:)
More believable than Edu appointing Tite as our next manager. Of course, if the Maguire rumors turned out to be true, I’d have a Welcome Tite sign up quick smart.
Happy April’s Fool!
Ha ha ha. Good one. Happy April Fools everybody.
I cant believe Arsenal is wasting money on such a position when we still are getting no penalties whatsover. What we really need is a diving speicialist. Sp*rs has one, Man U has a full team dedicated to this. If we want to be taken seriously we need to dedicate more resource to this.
A specialist in referee relationship management and influence would serve us well too. Xhaka had been begging for this coaching staff addition for years but the appointment was delayed due to Covid supply chain challenges.
When Ashley Young finally retires, he will be perfect. He’s not the very best at diving but Harry Kane, I think, would hesitate to help his old rivals.
Zapato is shoe in spanish 😉
The funniest part for me is at the end – Real Zueco. That’s even better than Zapato.
Who the hell is that on the photo, really? LOL 😂
The part that kills me is his photo in an Espanyol shirt, having never worked there and been brought up at La Masia. Genius.
What next? A breathing coach? A sitting down coach? This shit is ridiculous. Just concentrate on football Arteta
I think we have a winner folks!!
Breathing coach would also be good, maximise oxygen intake to muscles and get a few extra %
Bit like Per’s vision pencil.
Even he can’t teach Partey to kick properly
I was hoping for a head of heading but this will have to do
I’d have been sold if the position was something else, literally anything else 😂
He helped me with my golf game last year, next time out in got seven hole in ones couldn’t believe it as it was nighttime too.
And you were kicking the ball too, right?
Steel toes caps = driver
Toms sandals = sand wedge
He’s a genius
This was a long one
Great news! Good to have good old “Zap brannigan” with us.
Ahhh who doesn’t like a shiny new Zapato?! 😂
Im up and awake for about 15 mins having a cuppa Joe and im not ashamed to say…it took me to read the comments 💡😂😴
You win this round, Blogs!!
This took me way too long.. I’m starved of football over the interlul.
Ha ha ha brilliant.You got me there.Getting slow in my old age.Although a diving specialist & referee/ VAR influencer might prove to be more of a necessity going forward.😁
Hahah really enjoyed this! Dunno how you do it mate.
This morning I said to myself Blogs won’t get me this April’s fools day but you just did it😂
Honestly a good idea… especially juniors don’t focus enough on the actual technical and physics aspects of connecting with the ball imo
“Nonprehensile Transverse Navicularitis” LOL
Had me till Head of kicking haha… By the way, the name Kiko was right there
You had me until you said ‘arseblog can exclusively reveal’! Too far blogs!!!
Ah! Got me as far as ‘Head of Kicking’
Happy April Fools 😜
I love Real Zueco’s jerseys. Not like all the other ones out there clogging up the generic design market…….badum tsss.
Good one Bloggs.
Stop clogging up my feed with false news…
hah. Ordering a Real Zueco kit now!
Dangerous when taking corners 🤔….
Blogs, you really got me! When I read kicking and balls, I just fantasized about Xhaka kicking Kane in the balls. But, alas, this new coach is an expert in Nonprehensile Transverse Navicularitis (?Navicularis?) rather than Acute Contact Orchitis. When does he start?
It’s hard to concentrate on the information with that incredibly unsettling picture leading the article, Andrew.. Uncanny valley type stuff.. Just what the HELL is going on with that picture?? 😄
Uh oh. I mighta just got GOT! Andrew, the detail you put into this is incredible. 👏🏾🥂
I just saw this as a suggested article by google.
Oh dear, rather late. You had me until I saw his name!
Well played Blogs
As someone with family in Vilanova I la geltru i was quite excited by this news story…until I realised Mr shoe is an April fools joke 😔😂