Busting Three Myths about Jeison Murillo's Signing


Jeison Murillo has signed his contract with FC Barcelona and is officially at the club on loan until June. The 26-year-old Colombian defender comes from Valencia where he had fallen out of favor, but prior to this season he has kept a fine reputation in both La Liga and Serie A as a starting centre-back for globally-renowned teams. There are a few misconceptions about the loan of the player and some of the negative criticism of the signing may not be completely accurate.

His "aggressive" reputation

He has been sent off eight times in his career, six times because of a second yellow and twice because of straight red cards. He has scored just six goals and provided four assists in his career and while his mobility is not at a premium, he is not considered sluggish either. While playing for Colombia against top attacking talent at the 2015 Copa América, he was named "Best Young Player" of the tournament for his performances. His goal in the group stage downed Brazil while he helped keep a potent Argentina attack at bay in the quarter-final before his team fell on penalties. His aggressive reputation comes from his desire to take chances in a tackle, a quality that both Javier Mascherano and Clément Lenglet needed to refine as they made the move to Catalonia. He also has a reputation of making a pass, consistently finishing seasons in the mid-80s in passing accuracy. His issue with both his tackling and his passing is that when some things aren't working, nothing seems to work. At both Inter Milan and Valencia, his best was very good but his worst is something that won't fly at the Camp Nou.

He doesn't have experience

When any player says that playing for Barcelona is a realization of a dream, they should be given the benefit of the doubt that they are telling the truth. Younger players are harder to believe because of their relatively short careers, but a player like Murillo has clawed his way to the top and won't take this move for granted. He has played 143 official matches between Inter Milan, Granada, Las Palmas, Valencia and Cádiz. Signing for Udinese in Italy as an 18-year-old, he was immediately loaned to Granada and played for their reserves before being bought by the Spanish club. The following season he was loaned to the third division to Cádiz, helping the team to first in their regional table before falling to Real Madrid Castilla and then Lugo in the promotion play-offs, keeping them in the third division. The next season he moved to the Segunda División with Las Palmas where he started in 36 of the team's 42 matches. In 2015 he was bought by Inter Milan, making 61 appearances for the Italian club over the course of two seasons. After an injury-plagued loan to Valencia in 2017-18, he moved back to Spain and made just one official appearance as a Valencia-owned player this season. At his best, the player has been an important player of teams fighting for and capturing European spots. The real issue is not his level, but rather his inability to stay healthy at critical times in his career, missing 29 total matches due to different injuries.

He will block transfers and the academy

This is most polarizing of all the topics. Before ever considering what Murillo could bring to the club on his loan, many dismissed the player because of a belief that he would block the summer transfer of a young talent (read Matthijs de Ligt, even if it now looks unlikely) or the promotion of one of the Barcelona B centre-backs supposedly on the cusp entering the first team picture. Chumi has been on the top of Ernesto Valverde's list, but Jorge Cuenca also clearly has the natural tools to be a quality professional and new signing Ronald Araújo seems to be adapting well to life at Barcelona B as he has recently moved into Francisco Javier García Pimienta's starting line-up. Cuenca's stock has certainly fallen after arguably being first on the La Masia depth chart heading into the preseason. The left-footed centre-back hasn't been at his best this season in the third division and the tough reality is that he will need a major change of fortune to get a shot with the first team this season. While Araújo is still getting accustomed to life in Catalonia, Chumi is still the favorite to be used in a pinch. The 19-year-old has shown that he is confident on the ball, decent in the air and does not lack the speed to track down attackers. However, there do seem to be fears that his all-around game may not translate just yet to better opposition. At the highest level, players must have certain qualities that are elite to help them survive their early baptism by fire, and Chumi doesn't seem to possess one signature trait that gives Valverde the confidence to bench Piqué or Lenglet. Between Thomas Vermaelen (expected to return in mid-January) and Samuel Umtiti, there are two back-up spots available in the first team at the moment and Murillo and Chumi could both find themselves above Vermaelen on the depth chart when the veteran attempts to return from his latest set-back. With the club still competing in three competitions, more options can't be a bad thing. The teenagers should be expected to improve over the course of this season in ways that the more experienced centre-backs will not and they shouldn't be counted out just yet.