Santiago Muñoz is a centre forward who has recently completed a loan move from Liga MX side Santos Laguna to Newcastle United, where he will start his career at youth level with the U-23's. Muñoz is coming off the back of his professional debut season after Guillermo Almada handed him his debut off the bench against Atletico San Luis. He would go on to make 19 appearances, scoring a total of 3 goals and registering 3 assists which is a G+A every 3 matches (0.58 per game).
Muñoz has represented Mexico at youth level, and currently plays at U-23 level. His biggest success was winning the 2019 CONCACAF U-17 Championship where he scored 5 goals, finishing 3rd place for the golden boot. Muñoz also participated in the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup where Mexico finished runners up, but Munoz had a quiet tournament, scoring 1 and 1 own goal.
Nationality: Mexican/United States
Date of birth: 14/08/2002
Position: Centre Forward
Preferred Foot: Right
At 5'8" with a fairly slim build Muñoz isn't a physical player. He can shield the ball well when in ground duel engagements but is fairly weak in aerial duels. He has great acceleration and overall speed. His work rate is solid, for Laguna and Mexico their coaches defend from the front, and Muñoz will press the opposition centre back and the goalkeeper.
Technically, this is one of Muñoz better parts of his game. When the ball is being moved on the ground, he has a good first touch, and great hip movement, which is handy for dribbling out of danger and into space, this asset enables Muñoz to play with his back to goal, where he can receive the ball to feet, use his agility to turn away from his man and progress the attacking move. As well as protect the ball while being chased down by a rushing opponent. He is right footed and when is dribbling will lead with this foot. He uses feints and stepovers effectively and is able to go either left or right, this may seem basic but this kind of movement resulted in 2.02 Per 90 fouls drawn on Muñoz.
Last season Muñoz took a total of 1.83 shots per 90 and only 26% of these were on target. His three goals all complemented the different assets in his game, two were headers; one clean well guided header from a cross, and the second a rebound he poached. One goal scored with his right foot demonstrated his technical ability. The use of dribbling and quick feet create an opening for him to shoot.
For Santos Laguna, Muñoz played either left or right striker in a 4-4-2 as well as a slightly deeper role in a 4-2-3-1. For the Mexican national team, he was the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1. His attacking positioning allows him to contribute in ways other than scoring and assisting. He is always on the move, he has been described as a forward that plays between the lines well. His positioning lures defenders out of their area, opening up gaps for teammates to run into.
When transitioning the ball from defence to attack, Muñoz will try and keep his team in control by identifying gaps in the opposition's shape and invading the space, dribbling and ball shielding to make plays for his teammates or coming short to receive the ball to feet.
Santiago Muñoz's movement is intelligent and allows him to attack space in the final third. He can cut inside with the ball from wide spaces or position himself in between defenders for a cross which resulted in all 3 of his goals last season coming from inside the 18-yard box.
Muñoz is effective at pressing. Laguna and Mexico use a 4-4-2 as their defensive shape and defended from the front with Muñoz instructed to press the opposition centre backs as well as the goalkeeper.
Having already completed a season in the Liga MX with Santos Laguna, and playing 934 minutes will have given him the confidence within himself to take on the challenge of playing in Europe.
Throughout this report, it is clear that this forward is talented and possesses attributes that is required of a forward in the modern game. However, there are some areas of his game that need improving, for all his close control and dribbling skill, the reality of only completing 0.7 dribbles per game is something to be developed along with his aerial presence. The ambition for Muñoz will be to hit the ground running, and try to get as many minutes as possible in order to continue improving whilst hopefully making a breakthrough into Steve Bruce’s side.
Muñoz doesn’t look like he is going to change Newcastle overnight. He is 19 and has two years on his loan deal which if there’s a proper development plan in place, will be interesting to see what type of player Muñoz could become.