Jeison Murillo has joined Barcelona on loan from Valencia with an option to buy for €25 million at the end of the season. It’s true that Barcelona are in need of a centre-back due to niggling injury concerns, but is the Colombian a good pick knowing that they were linked to exciting players like Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen and Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt? Is the deal a smart piece of business or a panic transfer? Let’s check it out:
Barcelona had a wonderful 2017-18 domestic season with the partnership between Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti flourishing under Ernesto Valverde. The 4-4-2, although less impulsive and dynamic, absorbed vital amounts of pressure and most importantly, stopped a lot of goals.
The new season saw the advent of the 4-3-3 which led to more space between the midfielders but way more passing options and more fluidity in the overall movement. The defence however, has suffered and as a result, Barcelona have conceded more goals. Injuries to Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen have rubbed salt into the wounds and led Barcelona to look for a quality centre-back, eventually landing the Colombian. What Barcelona need is a great passer and a consistent performer free from injuries who knows the league inside and out. Short-term loan signings aren’t new to Barcelona: the loan move for Edgar Davids was a game changer, but will the same happen with Murillo?
Murillo’s Spanish innings kicked off at Granada where he established himself as a quality centre-back, earning a move to Italian giants Inter Milan for a reported fee of €8 million.
After a series of reassuring performances (including a bicycle kick goal against Bologna), he looked set to become Inter’s first choice centre-back but failed to cement his spot as he ran out of steam. A string of underwhelming performances later, he was shipped back to La Liga, joining Valencia on a two-year deal with an obligation to buy.
He was then deemed surplus to requirements, as he fell behind Gabriel Paulista, Ezequiel Garay and Moukhtar Diakhaby in Marcelino’s pecking order; which paved the way for the Blaugranes to strike a deal. He becomes the third Colombian player to wear the Blaugrana crest after Lauro Mosquera and Yerry Mina.
Murillo ticks most of the boxes: a proven player who knows the league, a great tackler, favourable age (26): young enough to adapt and old enough to take calculated risks, relatively lower market value, great passing accuracy (above 85%) but consistency is where he falters.
The player has shown concentration lapses leading to insipid performances. Although the player packs promise, his great performances are marred by the fact he has struggled with consistency, eventually turning into a fringe player in the first team squad. It happened at Inter, it happened at Valencia and can surely happen again at Barcelona. Also to be noted is the price: a €25 million asking price is debatable very much like €8 million was, when he moved to Inter Milan. Instead, Barcelona must invest in a quality centre-back next summer who’s up for European matches and is first-team quality instead of a backup (over to you De Ligt).
Overall, the short-term loan move is a smart piece of business knowing that all Barcelona need is a backup, but the club must refrain from activating the buying clause at all costs (unless he consistently performs phenomenally when given a chance) and invest in better players come the summer transfer window.
What do you guys think? Tell us in the comments!