Luis Muriel has been nicknamed the ‘Colombian Ronaldo’ for two reasons. One relates to his playing style whilst the other, less flattering, is down to his fluctuating weight. The forward has been in fine form of late and has been touted as one of Serie A’s hottest properties, with Inter showing the most interest. The 25-year-old has his eye on a summer deal, but the Nerazzurri must ask themselves is he a gamble and if so, is it one worth taking?
The former Udinese and Lecce striker confessed to receiving proposals from Juventus, Inter, Milan and Roma along with Spanish and English clubs. Based on this season the interest is well merited, as in 31 games across Serie A and the Coppa Italia the South American has notched 12 goals and five assists. Could we see him in La Liga next season or starring in upcoming Premier League matches?
His pace on the ball, sublime dribbling ability and powerful shot has terrorised defences and seen him enter 2017 with a bang. His two assists and goal against Roma was followed up with a decisive strike against Milan and another finish against Bologna. His winner in the Derby Della Lanterna in March also showing he can do it on the big stage.
The eyes of Europe are now firmly on him, a fact confirmed by Sampdoria Coach Marco Giampaolo who suggested that he would soon be moving on with a relatively low buyout clause of only €28m.
With Inter looking to replace Rodrigo Palacio in the summer and adding some extra cover, the idea of a ‘Ronaldo-esque’ character running at defenders may fill their hearts with joy. But do they need him with their actual Brazilian Gabigol waiting to explode and the promising Andrea Pinamonti in the wings? What’s more important, is Muriel’s form permanent or will he follow a pattern of consistent inconsistency?
Sinisa Mihajlovic said back in 2015 when he was the Coach of Sampdoria that “Muriel is the only player I really wanted. He did well at Lecce and then lost himself at Udinese. This was partly his own fault, but he will find motivation here again.” The forward was Serie A Young Player of the Year in 2012 alongside Stephan El Shaarawy after scoring seven goals in 29 games for Lecce. One the loan was complete, he returned to Udinese and his form dropped despite netting 11 in 22 in the 2012-13 season.
His problems stemmed from his weight and, despite the Colombian blaming a medical condition, the disinterested attitude and reported wayward life style painted a different picture. This was one of a player who thought he had made it and the fight seemed to go out of him. Despite all of this, he earned a move to Sampdoria, where his new Coach thought he could motivate the player once seen as potentially being world class.
Things went from bad to worse as the now overweight and underperforming player could not even get himself fit enough to play for the Genoese outfit and went an embarrassing 364 days without netting a goal. However, in February 2015 he came on as a second half substitute against Chievo in a game already lost and scored a late debut goal.
Has Muriel learned from those lessons or will he potentially slip back into old ways once he feels that success is at hand?
Would he be worth the gamble for Inter? Perhaps. The fee is (in today’s market) small enough for him to fail and Stefano Pioli would certainly only play him if fully fit. He can play just behind Icardi or on either flank and would be a suitable replacement for Maurito if needed. He is a big enough name to replace Palacio without demanding a staring berth and would allow Pinamonti the opportunity to go out on loan. He is also an upgrade on the hard-working Eder, who of course combined so successfully with Muriel at Sampdoria.
The upside for Inter is that if he continues his impressive form then he could take the next step up and continue to realise his potential. The added motivation of playing for one of Serie A’s top clubs could also help him improve and the fee, perhaps the most important factor, allows the Nerazzurri to focus on the rest of the squad.
With Icardi the predominant shining light, Muriel would simply be a calculated risk and at 25 years of age the ‘Colombian Ronaldo’ is probably worth it.
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