Spanish football may have a new star in the shape of Iker Muniain and Liverpool are rumoured to be interested in the youngster from Bilbao. The striker has been breaking all sorts of records this season and at only 16, he looks set to have a bright future in the game.
Muniain was born in Pamplona and joined Athletic Bilbao when he was 12 years of age. Since that point his rise to the first team has been rapid, at just 15 he was training with the first team alongside established stars. He made his first team debut on 30th July 2009 in a qualifying match for the Europa League and became Bilbao’s youngest ever player. A week later he scored his first senior goal in the return leg against Young Boys of Switzerland, the youngest player to score for the club. After this impressive start to his career he was selected to start the first league game of the season against Espanyol which Athletic won. Muniain then became the youngest player to score in the league in a 2-2 draw with Real Valladolid on October 4th. He has 4 goals in 11 games in all competitions this season and it is no surprise that he is drawing comparisons to Wayne Rooney.
At 5ft6in, he has a low centre of gravity which allows him to escape from the attentions of defenders easily. He is strong for his age and still has plenty of time to become more powerful. His electric pace has already given experienced La Liga defenders big problems and his ball skills are already at a high level. He is adept with either foot and has a fantastic work rate, harrying defenders into making mistakes; his youthful enthusiasm has propelled Bilbao into the top half of the table.
Bilbao fans will have breathed a huge sigh of relief when Muniain signed a long-term deal on the 1st December; a club that restricts itself to fielding local players cannot afford to let a potential global star slip through the net. Despite his importance to the future of Bilbao, Muniain is being tracked by Liverpool as well as Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona. The media interest in the young prodigy is intensifying with some even speculating that he could make a sensational bid for Spain’s World Cup squad. Whatever happens, it is clear that Muniain is a fantastic prospect for Bilbao and they will be hoping to keep him as long as possible but the big clubs are already circling with intent.