Luis Muriel – Udinese’s latest unearthed superstar

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.

Over the last number of seasons the likes of Barcelona, Juventus, Roma, Napoli, Inter and Fiorentina have raided Udinese’s top players.

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.

With scouts from top clubs still monitoring the Udine club for future talent, the Serie A side’s latest hot prospect is undoubtedly Colombian striker Luis Muriel.

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.

The South American sensation has formed a dangerous attacking partnership with veteran Antonio Di Natale, and is already being linked with a move to top clubs in England and Italy.

Muriel was quickly snapped up by Udinese as a teenager, after breaking into the Deportivo Cali first-team in his homeland.

Luis MurielThe sprightly attacker netted nine goals in his ten games for the Colombian outfit, and this was enough for the Italian side to swoop to bring him to the Stadio Friuli.

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.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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