Stadio Friuli has become a renowned hunting ground for scouts from leading European clubs, with the home of Serie A side Udinese the scene for a host of international players making their name over the last number of seasons.
The Udine-based team are admittedly a selling club; their modest means forces them to be, as they cannot compete with Italian football’s big boys.
If Udinese had retained the superstars that have made their name at the club, manager Francesco Guidolin would surely have a side capable of challenging for its first-ever Scudetto.
Mehdi Benatia, Pablo Armero, Samir Handanović, Mauricio Isla, Kwadwo Asamoah, Cristián Zapata, Alexis Sánchez, Gökhan İnler and Simone Pepe are amongst some of the star-studded names to move on to great things after a successful stint at Udinese.
The 22-year-old has been one of the bright sparks in an otherwise mediocre start to the new season for Udinese, and has recently been compared to Brazilian legend Ronaldo for his searing pace and ability on the ball.
Muriel was quickly snapped up by Udinese as a teenager, after breaking into the Deportivo Cali first-team in his homeland.
Still a raw talent, the South American striker was sent to Granada in Spain on a loan deal for the 2010-11 season, but is was in 2011-12 that he started to make people sit up and take note.
Udinese loaned Muriel to fellow Serie A side Lecce, with the striker given the opportunity to play in the Italian top flight and show what he is capable of.
Seven goals and impressive performances were enough to convince Guidolin to bring him back to the parent club, with Muriel used in a squad rotation system at Udinese last term.
Muriel started to really terrorise opposition defences while playing in a better team last season, and ended up with 11 goals in 22 appearances. His performances were enough to see him awarded the Serie A Young Player of the Year accolade for the campaign.
This term, with Di Natale ageing and Udinese starting to feel the consequences of the sale of so many superstars, Muriel has become an important member of Guidolin’s squad. Eager to stave off the vultures, the Colombian has been rewarded with a new and improved five-year contract in 2013.
Despite the new deal, it seems like only a matter of time before Muriel follows in the footsteps of so many other top players and is sold on at a considerable profit.
Internationally, Muriel will be given a chance to further his rising reputation as Colombia prepare for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
He will have a job on his hands to break into the team on a consistent basis, with world-class marksmen Radamel Falcao and Jackson Martínez also in the South American nation’s squad.
Muriel did play alongside Falcao in Colombia’s 2-0 friendly win over Belgium on Friday night, and if he continues to impress in Italy could well be a wildcard for his country in Brazil next summer.
The latest in a long line of top players to find their feet at Udinese, Muriel looks to have an extremely bright future ahead of him.