Miguel Almiron’s arrival to Newcastle United was one that was desperately needed- with the club fluttering above the relegation zone throughout the current season, fresh faces were required to improve their uninspiring form.
Admittedly, Newcastle making a record signing was long overdue, with fans not witnessing this since the signing of Michael Owen for £17 million in 2005. Although, this flexing of money from Mike Ashley comes at a strange point, with the controversial owner wishing to sell the club.
Despite this, the £21 million Paraguayan comes with a host of achievements across the Americas. Winning domestic league titles in his native Paraguay, Argentina and, most recently, in the United States with MLS new boys Atlanta United. This, all the while collecting individual gongs across each country.
This rich pedigree was further embedded with an impressive home debut from the attacking midfielder against Huddersfield last weekend. Despite being able to play down either flank, manager Rafa Benitez opted to select him alongside Spaniard Ayoze Perez in a central attacking midfield position, lying behind physical striker Solomon Rondon.
From the get-go this attacking three, with the support of Ritchie and Yedlin on the wider flanks, worked a dream. With barely ten minutes on the clock Almiron was already providing dangerous crosses into the box, with Ayoze Perez coming agonisingly close to tapping home one such through ball, only to be stopped by the impressive Huddersfield goalkeeper Jonas Lossl.
And it didn’t take much longer before Almiron put himself in a prime position to score. This time it was Rondon’s clever awareness to drop deep, creating a gap in the Huddersfield defence for Almiron to exploit. A crafty pass from Perez left Almiron one-on-one with the Terriers goalkeeper, only for Almiron’s cheeky chip to frustratingly clank the post.
Early indications also suggest Almiron has knack of placing himself in good positions to collect a ball and shoot. Rondon’s header down to him near the latter stages of the first half was one of many examples of this, with Almiron’s lack of conviction behind his shots being the only reason why his name wasn’t added to the score sheet on this occasion.
Almiron may have lacked in the goal department, but that certainly wasn’t the case in his chance creation. Leading the way with six chances being made for his teammates throughout the game, this culminated with a clever cross to DeAndre Yedlin, with his subsequent pass putting Perez on a plate to open the scoring.
Newcastle finished the game as 2-0 winners, though this score line, primarily due to the chance creation from Almiron, could’ve easily been three, four or five goals to the good.
This positive result was subsequently followed with another United victory in the midweek, defeating a Burnley side who had been unbeaten in the league since the turn of the new year. Almiron once again produced an impressive performance, with the former MLS All Star being crucial to Newcastle’s chance creation.
Newcastle in recent seasons has been branded as particularly uninspiring with their creativity, both off and on the pitch. This latest investment from Ashley looks, from early performances, to be one that will prove to be a success for the club.