Scout report - Luis Muriel
Who is Luis Muriel?
Luis Muriel is a Colombian international who plays in the Italian Serie A for Udinese. Born in Santo Tomas, Colombia, the 23-year-old forward joined the Zebrette in the year 2010.
Making an impressive debut against Fiorentina, he started his Serie A career by assisting a goal. He was also voted Serie A Young Footballer of the Year alonside Milan’s Stephen El Shaarawy.
Muriel has been fully representing Colombia on the international circuit and will be a vital player for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. He made his debut in June 2012, against Ecuador in the qualifying stages on the World Cup and in the following year, he scored a goal in a friendly match against Guatemala.
Born in the town of Santo Tomas, Muriel’s potential caught the eye of Deportivo Cali- a Colombian domestic club, who immediately signed him on January, 2009. He developed at Cali for a year after which he made is debut in the Categoría Primera A for his new side Envigado FC.
Muriel had a decent debut season scoring 9 goals in 10 appearances which put him on the map of European club scouts. His ticket to the footballing continent was confirmed when Udinese came knocking at his door and signed the Colombian on June 30, 2010.
Devoid of first team chances, Muriel was exported to Spain where he joined Granada on a one-year loan deal. After acquiring some significant playing time on the pitch, he served another loan spell at Lecce. He returned to his parent club in the summer of 2012 and signed a 5-year contract with them.
Muriel marked his return to the Serie A with an assist for the first goal in a 2-1 defeat against Fiorentina. He was instrumental in the 2013/14 Europa League qualifications as he scored a brace against Siroki Brijeg.
He has had some significant contributions since his return scoring in a 3-1 win against Parma while saving his team from a loss against Bologna by providing an assist.
Style of Play
In terms of attacking sense, Luis Muriel is a versatile figure on the pitch for both club and country. Bearing the no.9 on his back, he usually plays as a second striker behind the target man. But his ability to play in a central role as an attacking midfielder and switch towards a wider role (notably as a winger for the national team) makes him a utility player for his team.
Envisioned as one of the promising strikers in Europe, Muriel’s skills and playing style has drawn comparisons with the Brazilian legend, Ronaldo. The 5 ft 10 inches forward has stated that he was a supporter of Ronaldo during his time in Inter Milan. His movement and technique on the ball makes him a difficult opponent to mark. As mentioned earlier, the ability to score goals from a striker’s role and provide opportunities as an attacking midfielder at the same time, demonstrates his flexibility as a forward.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Luis Muriel’s key strengths lie in the department of finishing, dribbling, and finding his team-mates through key passes. Possessing a natural flair of a typical South American footballer, his agility on the ball is a key part of his game. He is not afraid to take on defenders as he likes to display his dribbling skills quite often.
Muriel is also a notable threat on the counter. The Colombian has decent pace to carry his team forward on the break and is not shy of shooting from the distance. His long range attributes and composure in the d-box characterizes his good finishing skills. Tackling opponents with caution is a good feature of his play as he does not commit himself to rash challenges.
Muriel’s weaknesses lie in the aerial department as well as in his defensive contributions. His does not track back quite often to help his team in winning the ball and is ineffective without the ball. The South American’s short stature also adds to his disadvantage as he can be easily shrugged off by strong opponents and is a second favourite in terms of aerial duel.
Coincidentally, Muriel also suffers weight issues like his idol Ronaldo, fow which he has to maintain consistency in his fitness. He had to lose five kilos at one point to sustain his quality in terms of athletic stature.
Possible transfer destinations
Italina Serie A has declined during recent times in terms of continental competitiveness when compared to other major leagues. In order to flourish and gain attraction among the best, he will need to play in a league that will generate a wider acclamation.
Previously Arsenal, Manchester United and Barcelona have praised the Colombian’s style and have shown interest in the 23-year-old’s abilities. Currently standing at a market price of €14m, England looks a possible destination for him as Liverpool have emerged as one of the possible clubs to sign him next summer. Arsenal are also looking to increase their fire power on the wings and he may be a realistic option for the Gunners.
Several Serie A clubs are also keen on signing Muriel with AC Milan, Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio among the major clubs to be interested in his services.
It seems Luis Muriel might become the subject of a big transfer tussle in the summer as he would have to make a decision whether to stay in Italy or move to a fresh new territory.
Since his career started in Udinese, Muriel has appeared in 46 games and scored 15 goals for the club, assisting 4 in the process. For Colombia he has played in 5 fixtures ( both competitive and freindlies) and has scored a single goal up until now.
Note: Below is an infograph, determining his career stats for both club and country.