A Premier League club breaking their transfer record seems to be an annual occurrence in the modern age of football.
The pedigree and financial power of being in England’s top flight division has caused the majority of the teams to spend big on players to improve their squad and expand their global reputation.
And then there’s Newcastle United.
It had been just under 14 years since the historic Premier League club shelled close to £17 million for then Real Madrid star Michael Owen, and football teams making more money than ever, the Toon have always found it difficult to spend big on players in any given transfer market.
The infamous Mike Ashley has been the pantomime villain every football fan wants to see booed off the stage due to his poor ownership of the club and his lack of intent to add funds for new players, but this past January transfer window ended in actual joy for Newcastle fans as they actually spent somecash, and a lot of it.
AS Monaco left-back Antonio Barreca was brought in on loan for the remainder of the season, but the big news was that Newcastle spent a club record £20 million on Atlanta United and MLS star Miguel Almiron.
The transfer had been rumoured for some time. News of a deal being agreed by the two parties was revealed in mid-January, but the move was finally announced on the final day of the winter transfer window. But who exactly is Almiron?
The lowdown on MLS’ finest product
Almiron is set to make his Premier League debut for Newcastle when they travel to Wolves on Monday night, and for many fans making the trip for the game and as well as those watching from home, it will be the first time watching their record signing in any capacity.
So what can Newcastle fans expect from one of the most exciting players to come from the Americas in recent years?
The Paraguayan is a natural #10, but if you were to watch him without knowing this information, you would think Almiron is a winger due to his physical and technical attributes.
The general qualities for an advanced playmaker in the game these days are a player who can unlock the defence with a single pass, great on set-pieces, can chip in with the odd goal, and links the midfield with the attack with ease. Almiron does all this but so much more.
Almiron’s biggest trait that makes him stand out from most #10’s in world football is his pace. The Paraguayan international is not only incredibly fast but also very athletic, able to shift directions in the blink of the eye and leave defenders for dust in the background.
Combine his pace with his dribbling skills, which is by far his best attribute, and you have yourself an attacking midfielder with the technical ability of a classy playmaker and the speed and footwork of a flashy winger.
As well as being unorthodox in his playing style, Almiron’s stats are also very unique for someone in his position. The 25-year-old registered 13 goals and 11 assists for Atlanta United last season as the Five Stripes claimed their first MLS Cup just two years after coming into the league.
If Almiron is to start for Benitez’s side on Monday, expect him to start out on the wing if the Spanish manager is to stick to the 5-4-1 formation. However, don’t be too surprised to see a return to the 4-4-1-1 with Almiron filling in the hole behind the striker.
A pond too great to cross
Every player in the world has weaknesses to their game and Almiron is no different, so what is lacking in the Paraguayan’s game?
The biggest flaw is that Almiron is yet to prove himself in a major league in world football. Sure, he did well in Argentina with Lanus and has been one of the best players in MLS since arriving in Atlanta in 2017, but the fact of the matter is that neither of these leagues comes near in terms of quality what the Premier League can offer.
There’s no question that Almiron is a quality player, but making the jump from MLS to the Premier League could be too much a jump for the midfielder if he doesn’t adjust to life in England.
However, with all his experience, his incredible track record, and international experience, Almiron can be a club record signing Newcastle fans can be excited about, and there is hope the flair man from Paraguay can lead the club into a new era in the Premier League.