Did Sevilla find Bacca’s Successor?

On July 8th 2017, Spanish club Sevilla announced their major signing for the upcoming season: 26-year-old Colombian forward, Luis Fernando Muriel is supposed to be the new fans favorite at Pijuan stadium but the most interesting fact is that Muriel became the most expensive player in the history of Sevilla, who paid Sampdoria 20M. Sevilla already had a great experience with another Colombian striker, when Carlos Bacca led them to win UEFA Europa League back to back in 2014 & 2015 and to become one of the best teams in La Liga. He scored 49 goals in 108 matches during his two years with the Andalucian club, a good production which will make all Sevilla fans happy in Muriel will repeat it, surely due to his price tag.

 

Unlike Bacca, Muriel isn’t a natural striker what we like to call ‘9’. He can play as one but he usually feels comfortable as a winger or second striker. He is fast and has a very good ball control which helps him not only to score, but to prepare dangerous options for his teammates in the box. The kid is 26 years old already and it seems that his should be the season where he will establish himself as one of the best strikers in Europe after his break through last season. He came to Europe in a young age and  plays for 7 years in one of the top leagues in the the world. Muriel seems up for the challenge, surely in a World Cup year when his national team is very close to secure their spot in Russia.

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Luis Muriel during the U-20 World Cup in Colombia

He started to play a professional football in 2009 with Deportivo Cali in the best possible way. He came as a sub in the second half of the semester but managed to score 9 goals in the last final 10 matches, which obviously make scouts to follow him. Cali didn’t enjoy too much from him because in the middle of 2010 Udinese decided to buy 70% of his rights for 1.9M. Muriel was sent to Spanish club Granada on loan but didn’t get a real chance, played only 9 matches and didn’t score.

 

A year later in 2011, he was sent on loan at Lecce, which brought Juan Guillermo Cuadrado on loan. Maybe it helped Muriel, because the young talent started to show sparks from his ability. First he led Colombia U-20 to the 2011 U-20 World Cup quarter final which took place in Colombia along with James Rodriguez. When he returned to Italy, he received the credit from Lecce’s coach, Serse Cosmi, played 29 matches which he scored 7 goals and 8 assists. Very nice production for a 20 year0-old player in his Serie A debut year. Due to his good performance, Udinese decided to bring him back at the end of the season.

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Celebrating with Cuadrado while playing in Lecce

The first year with the ‘Zebrette‘ was very good fir Muriel, personally and the team finished 5th. Muriel scored 11 goals along with 3 assists in 23 matches. It seemed that Muriel is on his way to the highest levels when even national team coach, Jose Nestor Pekerman decided to invite him for the first time ever. Muriel became an integral part of Colombia almost during the whole 2014 World Cup qualifiers. He barely played and when he did it was as a sub, but as a 23-year-old player it was very tough for him to compete with strikers like Falcao, Bacca, Jackson Martinez and Teo Gutierrez in their best form. Unfortunately it was one of the main reasons why Pekerman cut him from the last call-up to the 2014 World Cup tournament, one week before the opening match despite the injury of Falcao.

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With the uniform of Udinese.

Muriel finished 2013-2014 with 8 goals in 31 matches but a year after he wasn’t on Udinese’s plans. He played 11 matches in the first half of the season but was loaned to Sampdoria. Managed to play 16 matches until the end of the season and scored 4 goals. It was enough for ‘La Samp‘ to decide to purchase him for 10.5M. Muriel continued to improve and the year after he was one of the best players, scoring 7 goals along with 7 assists. Once again his name was in the scouts notebooks and he was linked with clubs like West Ham and Milan. But his best year of his career was last season, when he was the best player of Sampdoria, registered 13 goals and 9 assists in 33 matches. This was enough for Sevilla to splash the cash on him and make his their most expensive transfer ever.

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Became on of the best players in Sampdoria

It will be very interesting to see him in the Spanish league, now as a key player. In my opinion, Spain will be better for him and maybe a bit easier then Italy, where the defense are much stronger and tight, while in Spain he’ll have more freedom and he can use his dribble ans speed to create chances. He already scored in his preseason debut match, what possibly opened the appetite for the fans. The comparison to Bacca will be unavoidable, surely if he’ll struggle at first. As a player Muriel as much more talented then Bacca in my opinion and when the World Cup is in less then one year, he will do everything to prove that he is not only deserves a spot, but maybe even a starter spot in Pekerman’s team. In Sevilla he supposed to be one of the key players and it will be easier for him then to play in a team where he should fight for his spot. As we could see from James’s case, confident from the coach is probably the most important thing for a player.

 

By the way, speaking on the national team, he struggles to score while wearing the yellow jersey. Although he played most matches as a sub but still he scored only one goal in a friendly out of his 16 appearances. But now his situation is the opposite to what he had 3 years ago. Besides Falcao, Colombia’s strikers are not at their best right now and this is Muriel’s chance to take the spot. Colombia is in the second place in the Qualifiers group when we are four games left and the ‘Cafeteros’ are very close to secure another World Cup appearance. Muriel wants to be in Moscow and in order to do it, it’s his time to prove himself.

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2014 – Muriel during the press conference which left him out of the World Cup. Hope to be in Russia 2018

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