Luis Muriel claims Fiorentina “can be allowed to dream” of a Champions League spot. “After all, we are only five points off fourth place.”
The Viola are on fine form at the moment and fresh from a 7-1 Coppa Italia drubbing of Roma, setting up a semi-final against Milan.
Much of that is thanks to the arrival in the January window of Muriel, on loan with option to buy from Sevilla.
“From the outside, I read that the team had a few problems converting chances and perhaps they just needed to believe in themselves a little more,” Muriel told La Nazione newspaper.
“I too needed a squad that would welcome me with more faith… Let’s just say the two aspirations united and now everything is possible.
“I found a strong group made up of great guys. You can feel the special union created by what happened last year with the death of Davide Astori.
“Recent results have made something click within them that perhaps before was buried deep, but now we more convinced of our own capabilities.
“This Fiorentina can be allowed to dream of anything. After all, we are only five points off fourth place.”
Muriel explained why he struggled to shine at Sevilla and wanted a return to Serie A.
“I think I paid the price for feeling the pressure and wanting to prove myself in Spain. Sevilla had never paid that much for a player before and this weighed on me. I’m just sorry they were unable to see the real Muriel.”
The Colombia international’s coast-to-coast goal against Sampdoria on his Serie A debut in the Viola jersey brought back those old comparisons to Brazilian Ronaldo.
“I met Ronaldo only once in 2015, when I was in Chile to play the Copa America. It was so embarrassing! This is what happened: we were going out to play and Ronaldo pops out of the elevator. I was paralysed by excitement. Juan Cuadrado realises this and manages to drag me over in front of him, with me blushing with shame like a child.
“I get there and cannot say a word. Cuadrado takes a picture and that is my only memory of meeting the ‘real’ Ronaldo.”
Much like his hero, Muriel has also had to deal with questions and jokes over his weight.
“I can smile about it now, but if I think back to when (then Udinese Coach Maurizio) Sarri first mentioned my weight being an issue… Every time I played badly from then on, people would say it was because I was overweight, but it wasn’t true.”