Few players are enjoying themselves as much as Vedat Muriqi this season and few fanbases are enjoying a player as much as Mallorca are their giant target man. The 28-year-old now has five goals in his last five games after scoring the winner against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night, shooting him to joint-second in the goalscoring charts, behind only Robert Lewandowski.
Ahead of their match against Villarreal, Mallorca manager Javier Aguirre paid a typically unique complement to his star striker.
“Given how ugly he is, he plays very good football.”
Muriqi arrived on loan at Mallorca last January and revitalised the team, leading them to safety alongside Aguirre. During the summer, Mallorca made an effort to keep him, shelling out €10m for him.
It seems to be paying off though. Following their 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night, Mallorca sit 10th in the table. Aguirre was again full of praise for his star striker, exalting his work rate in defence as much as his offensive output. Diario AS carried his comments.
“This guy landed on his feet in winter. People love him, but it is impossible not to love that scoundrel. As big as he is, he has a huge heart.”
Speaking to Radioestadio, Muriqi did not deny his manager’s assessment.
“Yes, well he’s right. I’m very ugly. But I’m also a little bit attractive too no?”
Muriqi spoke well in Spanish, despite having only been in the country for seven months. He explained that the people of Mallorca had taken him to their hearts and at times, he wasn’t even allowed to pay for his drinks.
The interview took on a more serious turn as they moved onto his upbringing in war-torn Kosovo. Muriqi explained that he had worked as a waiter and at a grill house growing up – “In Kosovo, kids started working from the age of nine.”
He was then asked about the war in Ukraine, having experienced war himself.
“It’s very bad, people always try to give encouragement to them in Ukraine, but people can’t imagine what it’s like, the war in Ukraine is very bad.”
“We in Kosovo already have that fear, it’s crazy. The things I have seen, it’s crazy, nobody should see those things, not a single human should see them, let alone children. I hope the whole world can live in peace.”
As if Muriqi was not already receiving plenty of affection from the locals, he also spoke of retiring at Mallorca. The synthesis between the two is a priceless thing in football. Both the club and the player appear to feed off each other. Nicknamed the pirate, Muriqi has stolen the hearts of the good ship Mallorca.