Newcastle United got their season underway with victory over newly-promoted Nottingham Forest on Saturday, although despite that positive start there appears work still to be done in the transfer market, with attacking additions a particular priority.
Sky Sports reporter Keith Downie has recently suggested that the Magpies will make two further signings this summer – having already wrapped up three major deals – with a centre-forward and a winger said to be on the cards.
One man who could well fill one of those roles is Atalanta striker, Luis Muriel, with reports in Italy suggesting that talks have been planned regarding a move for the 31-year-old, albeit with the northeast side set to face competition from Serie A giants, Juventus.
Having previously been linked with a move for the Colombian’s current teammate Duvan Zapata back in January, the Tynesiders now appear to have set their sights on another of Bergamo’s finest, with the former Sevilla man potentially set to cost in the region of just €15m (£12.6m), with just a year remaining on his current deal.
That would represent something of a bargain for a player who has been in sparkling form in Italy in recent times, with the “prolific” gem, as dubbed by Nico Cantor, having netted 55 goals and provided 22 assists in 128 games for his current side.
That haul includes a tally of nine goals and eight assists in 27 league games from the 2021/22 campaign for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side, with the £55k-per-week marksman also further showcasing his creative flair by averaging 2.2 key passes per game – a record far better than that of Newcastle’s current forward options, Callum Wilson (0.6) and Chris Wood (0.6).
A dangerous attacking threat as both a provider and a goal-getter, the 5 foot 10 sensation would clearly offer a real quality addition to Eddie Howe’s squad, while supporters may well be hoping he can emulate the impact of compatriot and former St James’ Park hero, Faustino Asprilla, who also traded life in Italy for the Premier League back in 1996.
Dubbed ‘the octopus’ by his teammates due to his unpredictability with the ball at his feet, the now-retired gem made an instant impact in English football, registering a fine assist off the bench on debut against Middlesbrough, despite having only landed in the country that same day.
That would set the tone for what would be a brief, yet explosive stint on Tyneside for the larger-than-life figure, with the dynamic forward quickly cementing his status as something of a cult hero among the club’s support.
The 58-cap gem’s finest moment undoubtedly came in the Champions League back in September 1997, with the electric hotshot netting a blistering hat-trick to condemn the great Barcelona to a 3-2 defeat and further rubberstamp his legendary status in the process.
While he would only net nine goals in 48 Premier League games for the club before returning to Italy after just under two years with the Magpies, Asprilla remains a figure etched into club folklore, with few having endeared themselves quite so quickly to the Newcastle support.
The hope will be that Muriel can hit the ground running just as quickly as his fellow Colombian did over 25 years ago, with Howe and co no doubt in need of an added spark in their forward line.