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Roma & Fiorentina Race for Luis Muriel

In a bit of a surprise move, Roma and Fiorentina may be fighting for the services of Udinese's young attacker, Luis Muriel

Dino Panato

A new day, a new name, a new rumor. Get used to it, it's only June 4th. The man dominating today's headlines is Udinese's 23-year-old striker Luis Muriel, with Fiorentina and Roma reportedly the most keen for the Columbians services. So what would Mr. Muriel bring to Roma, what would he cost and who would he replace?

Well, since you asked, let's have a look.

Making the case for Muriel

If we think of Luis Muriel as a younger, cheaper, and, some would argue, tactically smarter version of both Gervinho and Alessio Cerci, the calls for his services start to make sense. Muriel possess the same combination of dribbling, pace and creative ability as Roma's current and former widemen.

During his break out 2012-2013 season, one in which he scored 11 goals and dished out three assists, Muriel was third among all Serie A forwards in successful dribbles per match and per 90 minutes, while finishing fifth among that same crowd in goals per match and goals per 90 minutes; and all this from a 22-year-old in only his second season in Italy.

In fact, when we look at all that one needs from wide players--scoring, creating, and dribbling, among others--Muriel's 2012-2013 campaign fared quite well when compared to Gervinho and Cerci.

The young Colombian came out on top in goals scored, take-ons and take on percentage per 90 minutes among those three men, indicating a greater degree of efficiency in one-v-one scenarios than either Cerci or Gervinho. Though, to be fair to Cerci, he led the way in key passes and chances created, which are often overlook components of his game...must be the hair.

While this season wasn't quite as prolific for Muriel, the more nuanced measures are still somewhat kind to him. For this season in particular, we need to use the per 90 metric because Muriel played half as many minutes as Cerci and Gervinho. In that vein, Muriel emerges as the best creator of the three, as his key passing numbers are top of this particular three man heap. Somewhat surprisingly, Gervinho was actually the most efficient dribbler of the three, winning 47% of his take-ons. Though it must be said, none of the three held significant advantages in any of our chosen categories, so this may ultimately be a matter of personal preference.

However, the prime selling point of this manufactured Muriel move, at least in terms of a direct comparison with Cerci is, quite naturally, the cost. While the erstwhile Roman may cost north of €20m, Muriel checks in at the bargain basement price of €15m; not cheap by any means, but a potential €5m in savings is significant for a club like Roma.

Move Along, Muriel

Of course, any move, let alone for a player as young and relatively expensive as Muriel, is far from clear cut. The most glaring detractor from this move is Muriel's health, as he has missed nearly three months of action in each of the past two seasons.

Whether it was due to these injuries, or simply the inconsistencies of youth, Muriel saw a dramatic decline in his offensive output from 2012-2013 to 2013-2014, falling from 11 goals and three assists to four goals and one assist. Yes, there are other contributing factors to that disparity, but an early onset of injuries, and the subsequent inconsistencies they create, tend to derail promising careers. Defensively speaking, Muriel won't lend too much of a helping hand, which is always a factor given Roma's rotating cast of fullbacks.

Likelihood of Luis: 6/10

My best guess is that this position will be Roma's largest expenditure this summer, so while we may be splitting hairs between Muriel's €15m price tag and Cerci/Iturbe's €20m, with several other areas in need of reinforcement, any savings Walter Sabatini can find will benefit the club's broader market aims.

Muriel may not be as proven a product as Cerci, but, based on what we've seen the past two seasons, he has an incredible amount of potential.

So, for Roma, it's a question of cost vs production. Do you pay a little more now for Cerci, from whom you know what to expect, or do you pay a little less for a little more of the unknown from Muriel?