Rodrigo Muniz – Fulham’s goalscoring gamble who has become the Premier League’s hottest property

4 min

Rodrigo Muniz may have arrived at Craven Cottage in the summer of 2021 without much fanfare but the 22-year-old is certainly making up for it now.

Joining a Fulham side destined to ease to Premier League promotion, Muniz quickly found himself a bit part player as he struggled for game time in his newfound surroundings.

A season-long loan spell at Middlesbrough last term did little to help him adapt, scoring only twice in 17 appearances as his parent club continued to flourish in the Premier League.

And even with the departure of the talismanic Aleksandar Mitrovic ahead of this campaign, many would still not have considered Muniz as the Serbian’s natural successor with the signing of Raul Jimenez also suggesting his chances would remain limited.

But after a sensational seven goals in as many games since the start of February, Muniz has suddenly become the Premier League’s hottest property.

“Despite not speaking a word of English or even being a starting player back in Brazil, I saw real talent in him when he arrived at 20-years-old,” recalled Fulham head coach Marco Silva.

“Last season was not the best for him (going to Middlesbrough) from a football point of view but Rodrigo grew in a different way and that was important for him.”

It’s testament to Silva that he has persevered with the young Brazilian, who has eventually grabbed his opportunity with both hands due to Jimenez struggling with injuries and suspensions since the turn of the year.

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Yet even Silva’s patience would have been tested with Muniz’s innocuous performances at the likes of AFC Bournemouth and question marks also raised over the forward’s general work ethic in leading the Fulham line. 

Like many overseas players, Muniz appears to have just needed time to develop and mature as both a player and a person.

His goals have proved invaluable before the international break with his final two, in the 3-0 home win over Tottenham, his finest performance in a Fulham shirt to date.

“I am really pleased for him,” Silva told London Football Scene. “When you have the chance, you have to take it and show your quality, the best way you can. 

“He is in a good moment – he has the profile and the potential and some really important skills for a striker.

“The way he is improving it is a great feeling for him. It was probably a gamble to buy him two years ago but from pre-season we saw he was going in the right direction.”

Muniz’s performances have not only helped Fulham navigate what could have been a tricky period for the side, but has also seen the highly-rated January loan signing of Chelsea’s Armando Broja consigned to the bench.

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While that decision may bring the ire of Fulham’s West London neighbours, it’s hard to ignore Muniz’s continually improving displays of attacking prowess, strength, speed and predatory anticipation.

Before Muniz’s goals (and one assist), Fulham had failed to score a single goal in five of their last six Premier League encounters – the anomaly being the 2-1 win over Arsenal at Craven Cottage on New Year’s Eve.

Muniz’s transformation is testament to how circumstances can quickly change in football and Fulham will be hoping the international break won’t have disrupted his goalscoring momentum or that the recent rich vein of form is just a rare purple patch.

Because with question marks remaining over Jimenez, the Brazilian has a real opportunity to capture the hearts of the Craven Cottage faithful and make the centre-forward position his own.

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