1) They really love him at Velez Sarsfield
Mauro played for Velez Sarsfield up until he was 20 years old, notching up 99 appearances before moving on to Qatari side Al-Saad. But while you can take the boy out of Buenos Aires, you can’t take Buenos Aires out of the boy, and in 2013 Zarate returned to his home club after his European and Middle Eastern adventure turned sour. He went on to score 13 goals in 19 games, helping his side to win the Supercopa Argentina. Expect him to return back to Velez once his playing days are over.
2) He has previous Premier League experience
That’s right – it’s the same longhaired magician who couldn’t keep Birmingham City in the then Premier League in 2008. Zárate scored four goals in his short spell with the Blues and I personally remember his stunning free kick against Everton. He also scored a brace against Manchester City, although that is not the task it is today.
3) Zárate was once worth £13million
Al-Saad paid $22million for Zárate in 2007. He only played six league games and scored four goals before moving onto Birmingham on loan.
4) He likes to come firing out of the blocks
Zárate instantly endeared himself to the Lazio fans after scoring a brace on his debut against Cagliari, and dedicating the second goal to the supporters. The move to Lazio obviously suited him as he went on to score against AC Milan at the San Siro, and another brace against Torino.
5) He has big-match experience
Zárate won the Coppa Italia with Lazio, scoring a fourth minute opener in a 1-1 draw with Sampdoria. He then converted a penalty in the shoot-out.
6) He doesn’t know of any dictators – so don’t ask!
When with Lazio, Zárate caused controversy when he was photographed giving a fascist salute whilst watching his side lose with a group of fans. A spokesman for Zárate claimed that Mauro ‘did not realise the significance of his gesture’, and even went on to claim that Zárate wasn’t aware of who Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini were.
7) He’s a World Cup winner!
There’s no disputing that Zárate is a World Cup winner, and he even scored the winning goal in the final. I must stress that it was with the Argentina Under-20s, but he was playing alongside eventual golden-boot winner Sergio Agüero and Real Madrid’s Ángel di María.