Scouting report: The Basque Wayne Rooney
Athletic Bilbao striker Iker Muniain isn't being labelled the Basque Wayne Rooney because he resembles the 'unique looking' Manchester United star wearing a natty French undergarment, you'll probably be pleased to hear.
No, the comparisons are being drawn thanks to both the Pamplona-born starlet's speedy ascent to the upper echelons of Spanish football - a rise which has seen him set records as both Athletic's youngest ever player in a competitive match, and youngest ever goalscorer - and his bullish, never-say-die approach to the game.
It's said that the 17-year-old is already being monitored by scouts from several of Europe's top sides, including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City.
There would certainly be no shortage of takers should Munian decide to leave Estadio San MamÃÂ©s. Although with his club side already valuing him at ÃÂ£30 million, any potential transfer wonÃ¢ÂÂt come cheap.
FourFourTwo contributor and La Liga Loca blogger Tim Stannard gives us the skinny on the promising Basque hot shotÃ¢ÂÂ¦
He looks more like Torres than Rooney, to be fair...
Name Iker Muniain
Club Athletic Bilbao
Games 23 Goals 5
It is deliciously ironic that Iker Muniain scored his first official goal for Athletic Bilbao against the Swiss side, Young Boys, in SeptemberÃ¢ÂÂs Europa League clash. After all, the forward was just sixteen when he struck to put the Basque club through to the group stages of the competition.
Despite missing chunks of the current campaign on duty with SpainÃ¢ÂÂs youth ranks and through injury, Muniain has shown enough Primera potential to win a contract with Athletic until 2015.
For a club that restricts itself to using locally born players and can ill-afford to chop and change in the transfer market, it was some achievement. It was also a way for the Bilbao side to see off talent-sensing sharks from EuropeÃ¢ÂÂs bigger beasts that had begun to circle San MamÃÂ©s.
"Unhand me, evil-doers!"
Muniain draws most comparisons with Manchester United and England forward Wayne Rooney due to his bullish bellicosity partnered with his attacking instincts.
The striker, who turned seventeen in December, is a fearless footballer and proved so by scoring his first goal in La Liga against the notoriously dirty defence of Valencia. In the following game, Muniain demonstrated that he was equally adept at providing as finishing, with two assists in an away win against Zaragoza.
It was a peerless performance that had his manager, Joaquin Caparros, purring that his young striker had a Ã¢ÂÂbuilt-in GPS and eight gearsÃ¢ÂÂ. The early indications from a footballer sports daily AS call Ã¢ÂÂthe future star of Spanish footballÃ¢ÂÂ are that none of these gears are for reversing.
Heading - 6
Crossing - 7
Tackling - 7
Creativity - 8
Passing - 8
Work-rate - 8
Shooting - 8
Pace - 7
Dribbling - 6
Overall - 7
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