The 27-year-old Saints target has 75 goals in 235 career games and has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs in the past, including Queens Park Rangers when Hughes was manager at Loftus Road.
Southampton and Villareal are said to be vying for Zapata's signature according to Gazza Mercato but no fee is mentioned.
However Southampton should heed the warning of West Ham co-owner David Sullivan from when he tried to sign the player back in 2013.
Speaking to a West Ham fanzine, as reported by the Daily Star at the time, Sullivan said he looked into bringing Zapata to East London when Sam Allardyce was manager but pulled the plug on the deal as he could not get a work permit due to a lack of action for his national team.
"We didn't think we could get a work permit," he told a West Ham fanzine website as reported by the Daily Star.
"He's not played a single international and our problem is that we couldn't wait a month so see if we could get a work permit, as we need players now.
"There is a small chance he could get a work permit, but it's very difficult for a 22-year-old.
"He's not 18, he's 22 without a single full international and it's hard to see how you could bring him under the special talent rule."
Fast forward five years and Zapata is now 27 with only five caps for Colombia to his name. He was also not considered for his country's World Cup squad.
Zapata may well have his best years ahead of him.
But if the Saints are interested perhaps Hughes would be better focusing his attentions elsewhere this summer to save wasting precious time on targets that won't come off, especially given the fact the transfer window closes nearly three weeks earlier than usual.