The first edition of ‘Player Insights’ is here. This series will take a closer look into our squad, uncovering their footballing journey which bought them to Newcastle United. We will also be analysing their time in the North East, before considering what the future could hold for each player. This episode centres on fan-favourite Miguel Almiron.
The South-American was born 26 years ago in Paraguay, growing up in a large Christian family, with four siblings. Miguel’s father worked 18 hour shifts as a security guard, while his mother worked in a supermarket to help provide for the family. This immense work ethic is something that Miguel captured and took with him on his footballing career.
This career began at local team Cerro Portino, in which Almiron made 39 appearances across two seasons in an attacking midfield role, he also notched six goals for the club.
Following this fairly impressive start, Miguel moved across the border to Argentina when signing for Lanus, in the Argentina Primera Division. The manager saw the tricky midfielder as a raw talent and slowly worked to integrate him into the first team picture during his debut year.
There were some doubts over the stature of Almiron, however the appointment of Jorge Almiron (Unrelated to Miguel) as club manager truly benefited the midfielder.
More responsibility was placed on the shoulders of the 5’9 Paraguayan in the following campaign, however he ceased this opportunity making pivotal contributions in the clubs title success. Almiron scored in the match against fierce rivals Banfield, whilst also netting in the pivotal fixture against San Lorenzo.
After slowly entering the scene in South America, Almiron had significantly grown his reputation in the space of a year becoming one of the most coveted prospects on the continent, alerting the rapidly developing MLS based team, Atlanta.
Upon joining the club in December 2016 for $8 million he did not waste much time establishing himself as the heartbeat of the team. Fans instantly took to the hugely talented, and yet tirelessly working speedster, with his performances deserving of the appreciation he received.
Almiron earned a place in the MLS Team of the Week on seven occasions, while netting the clubs second ever hatrick. He was awarded Newcomer of the Year within his debut season.
Forming not just a great friendship, but also a deadly attacking partnership with Josef Martinez, the club reached new strengths in the following campaign, winning their first piece of silverware, the MLS Cup against Portland Timber. At this point, the Paraguayan had racked up over 20 goals and 15 assists, with European football now beckoning.
Life at Newcastle United
With Rafa Benitez sitting at the Benton training ground in Newcastle with his scouting team and data analysts, a thorough investigation was conducted not just on Almiron’s footballing ability, but also the personality and character of the South American.
Benitez was building a squad, which had resilience and fight, he clearly saw these characteristics in Almiron. With the added evidence of significant goal contributions Benitez opted to bring Almiron to St James Park, in a then club record fee of £21 million in 2019. The South American created more history becoming the most expensive ever signing from the MLS when signing on the dotted line of a 5 year contract.
Almiron made his debut at St James Park against Premier League team Huddersfield. Here we witnessed the incredible pace he possessed and the drive he had to run at opposing players.
In the match the midfielder was placed on the left of a front three containing fellow South American, Salomon Rondon, and Spaniard Ayoze Perez. He was unlucky not to score in the match, hitting the woodwork after a bursting run forward, beating the keeper with a clever chip before seeing his strike rebound of the post.
In the following period nobody would have expected Almiron to go so long without hitting the back of the net in black and white. With most other players, this would be a worrying sign, however the Toon Army always kept faith in the Paraguayan.
He suffered an unfortunate injury against Southampton, just a few months into his Newcastle career which sidelined him for the remainder of the campaign. His absence from the lineup underlined, that although he was yet to be named on the score sheet he brought so much to the team.
With Rafa Benitez departing and Steve Bruce taking the helm in the North East, Almiron still remained in the starting lineup, however still struggled for goals. This was until December 2019, almost an entire calendar year after signing, when Almiron found the back of the net against Crystal Palace, causing St James Park to erupt.
Following this goal, Almiron seemed to reach even higher levels in his Newcastle United careers, often being the primary outlet for the Magpies, and playing a pivotal role in our FA Cup run.
What the future may hold
Steve Bruce has recently shifted Almiron into a more central role, allowing the attacking midfielder to drift into more space and concentrate more on creating goals for himself and his teammates. With the incredible attitude he possesses, it was only going to take one goal for his confidence to return, and the player we knew we had, come to light.
Almiron may not be the most vocal among the Newcastle United squad, however his relentless work rate is infectious among the team, and often supplies the piece of energy which ignites the crowd at St James’.
With Almiron, now adding goal contributions to his game it is no surprise that other clubs are taking an interest. Most recently Arsenal have been linked with our number 24, however I cannot see the rumour coming to light.
Almiron does strike me as an ambitious player, and has the talent to become a very top-level player. I do therefore believe that if we as a club do not showing the ambition to match that of the brilliant Paraguayan, then we could see Almiron depart St James Park in the following years.
Subscribe for the very best NUFC Hotspot round-ups delivered straight to your inbox!