Luis Muriel has improved as a player since his arrival at Atalanta in the summer of 2019 and he has benefitted from playing in the system implemented by La Dea tactician Gian Piero Gasperini.
At the age of 30, the Colombian international is having the greatest season of his career and he has scored over 20 league goals for the first time as a professional footballer.
Muriel is the ultimate super-sub in Serie A. He has played 33 times, found the back of the net on 21 occasions, and he has supplied nine assists as well. During this league campaign, he has come off the bench 18 times and he has featured for 1,322 minutes.
When he was at Fiorentina for the second half of the 2018/19 season, he played in 19 Serie A matches and featured for 1,443 minutes, while at his last season at Sampdoria, he featured for a total of 2,258 minutes in 31 league games.
Compared to the aforementioned campaigns, Gasperini has transformed Muriel in a way that makes the Colombian maximise his impact on the pitch despite a short timeframe to do so. The 30-year-old already demonstrated that he can be effective in a short space of time throughout 2019/20, scoring 18 goals while playing for 1,244 minutes in Serie A and he is replicating that form this season.
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His latest super-sub performance was in the 5-2 victory away to Parma on Sunday afternoon. Although Atalanta were playing well, Gasperini needed to make changes to put the game out of the Ducali’s reach.
Muriel was brought on to replace Duvan Zapata in attack while midfielder Matteo Pessina came on for Josip Ilicic and the substitutions paid dividends as the Colombian provided a pass for the Italian to score seven minutes into the second half.
The 30-year-old striker added another two goals of his own and he was involved in the build-up for the fifth Atalanta goal. Mario Pasalic played a one-two with Muriel and tried to dribble his way around the Parma defence but he could not finish the move off and Aleksey Miranchuk knocked in the rebound.
Most outfield players reach their peak when they are around the ages of 24 to 28, but Serie A in the last decade has been an anomaly, where strikers on the wrong side of 30 have been prolific. Surely the feats of Luca Toni at Hellas Verona, Muriel’s ex-teammate Fabio Quagliarella at Sampdoria, Edin Dzeko at Roma, and Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus are things that the Colombian can aspire to.
Muriel battled weight and fitness issues at previous clubs but he has embraced Gasperini’s philosophy at La Dea and he has been in the form of his life.
In a league in which experienced players are highly valued, the 30-year-old can take confidence in that he can maintain his prolific scoring while he is in Bergamo.