According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Sky Sports, Taylor Twellman and The Telegraph (so if Mike Ashley gets blackout drunk and firebombs the deal, don't blame me), Newcastle United and Atlanta United have finally agreed to terms on the transfer of Miguel Almiron to the Premier League. The fee is believed to be in the range of $27 million, smashing the previous MLS record transfer fee received, which was the $13M (potentially rising to $22M) that Bayern Munich shelled out for Alphonso Davies.
It’s no surprise that MLS is setting that bar ever higher these days, but it does come as a massive surprise that Newcastle has finally broken its own transfer record, one which had previously stood for 14 years. In an era flush with gobsmacking fees, Newcastle’s $21M outlay on Michael Owen back in 2005 had become symbolic of Ashley’s penny-pinching regime (he purchased Newcastle in 2007).
Almiron played a vital role in Atlanta’s 2018 MLS Cup triumph, scoring 12 goals and providing 11 assists in 32 regular season games. He appeared in all five of Atlanta’s playoff matches, scoring against New York City FC in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The 25-year-old Paraguayan was almost always deployed as an attacking midfielder, but he’s also capable of playing the false nine role or contributing from the left wing (he’s left-footed). He’s a lot of fun.
— Revolución Azulgrana (@RevAzulgrana) April 16, 2018
But can he make the grade at Newcastle? Yes. Full disclosure, I’m a Newcastle fan, and my favorite player is attacking midfielder Ayoze Pérez, so this pains me some deal, but it’s absolutely time that Ayoze was given some fierce competition for his place.
The 25-year-old Spaniard has a dash of quality that no one else at St James' Park possesses, and Rafa Benitez knows that he’s full of sacrifice and work rate, but his impact in the final third simply hasn’t improved enough since 2014, when he arrived from Tenerife and quickly endeared himself to the Toon with seven goals in his first season in England.
He was wildly inconsistent last campaign, and although a return of eight goals and four assists in 36 games paints a decent picture, he approached April with only two goals before going on a late tear.
That’s again been the case for Ayoze this year as he’s registered only three goals and one assist in 22 games.
In the battle for survival, Benitez knows that he can trust Ayoze to fight and scrap, but a total team return of 19 goals in 23 EPL matches paints a very damning picture — if Newcastle is to survive, it needs a bit more quality in the final third. We can’t just keep punting it at Salomón Rondón whilst thanking God he’s not Joselu. That’s not a tactic.
And maybe there’s room for both Ayoze and Almiron in the starting 11 — Newcastle’s left side has been home to both Kenedy and Christian Atsu this season, but GOOD LORD. It’s a broken home.
Those who think that Almiron will have trouble hacking it in the rough and tumble Premier League probably don’t know anything about MLS, or what it’s like growing up playing in Barrio Obrero, Asunción.
Listen to this fool. You played for the Detroit Express during your career, Mr. Francis. The Detroit Express.
"They're all excited because they're bringing in a £20m player. They're got a 50,000 regular attendance at St James' Park but they won't have a clue who this player is!"Trevor Francis isn't too impressed with rumors of #NUFC signing Miguel Almiron!#beINPL #NEWMCI HD11 pic.twitter.com/AuYszAT8ly
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS) January 29, 2019
So get to know him.