FC Barcelona made the loan of Jeison Murillo official on Thursday and confirmed his jersey number. The Colombian defender will be taking over the vacancy left in the locker-room by Paco Alcacer and will wear the number 17.
The operation of Murillo is a puzzling one. The board will argue that the transfer was done out of urgency and necessity given the injury problems Barça’s defense is experiencing this season. Not only is Samuel Umtiti’s knee problem an incognito, but there are also reports suggesting that the injury may be long term. Add to that the fact that Gerard Pique is on the wrong side of thirty, and as far as Vermaelen is concerned…well…his troubled track record of grievances have been well documented and need no reminding.
So you might say that the acquisition of a defender who can come on loan for the season for the decent sum of €2m with a buying option for €25m would seem reasonable.
However, we only need to take a closer look at Murillo’s career to see that his moves through European clubs raise several question marks. Those who know the central defender will remember that he was an important player for both UD Las Palmas and Granada FC before leaving for Serie A, where Inter Milan welcomed him as a serious addition to their backline.
Despite the chaotic state this club was in before the Luciano Spalletti era, reports suggest that he played well over in Italy. Despite his satisfactory performances, after having played two full seasons at the Milan club Valencia managed to get him on loan with an option to buy for €12m. An option that the Spanish club decided to pick up over the summer.
But here is where things get particularly peculiar considering that after having played 17 matches for Valencia (at an average of 80 mins per game), Marcelino decided he has no further use of this multifaceted defender. So far this season the Colombian defender has only played one match for his club. Naturally, from the outside we can merely speculate as to why the Valencia manager has decided not to count on the youngster, but needless to say it’s a striking decision after the club decided to invest an important amount of money in him in a season where los Che were expected to make a serious impact in all of the competitions they’re contending in.
However, all the wondering in the world won’t change the fact that the player now forms part of Valverde’s squad and will most likely have good chances to prove his worth considering the troubles the back four are experiencing.
When asked why the club decided against giving a chance to a player from the B team, Abidal stated that their commitment to La Masia remains the same. He defended the arrival of Murillo by saying: “It does not change anything. But now it’s time to compete and here the coach is the boss. I hope that in the future players continue to come up to the first team as they have done so far.”
A hope surely reflected in many of Barça’s lower categories, but simultaneously those troupers are undoubtedly left feeling rather hopeless when they see rejects from other clubs being favored over hardworking homegrown talents. #HangInThereChumi