When you think of Newcastle, you think of the utterly insane, passionate fans. You think of the city-centre based spectacle that is St James’ Park and more recently, you think of the soap opera the club has become. Unfortunately, under Mike Ashley, being a hardcore, passionate Newcastle fan has become a soul-sucking chore rather than anything else.
Then January rolled around and all of a sudden, Ashley decided to put his hand into his pocket and splash some cash. Rafael Benitez had been scouting Paraguayan midfielder Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United for the better part of two years before Newcastle broke their long-standing transfer record to bring him to Tyneside. The £20million transfer fee was biggest transfer fee paid by the Magpies since the £17million spent on Michael Owen in 2005.
Newcastle 2-0 Huddersfield – Almiron Verdict
The 25-year-old showed unbelievable composure on the ball, was lively from the off and added the spark that the Newcastle attack has been missing all season. Another encouraging positive for the Geordies to take was the link he developed with Ayoze Perez. The Spaniard has been very hit and miss with his form in his Newcastle career. Having a partner in crime in the form of Almiron could help him become the player he has repeatedly threatened to be for the last four years.
Almiron played the game on the left hand side of the front three – he saw plenty of action too as exactly 50% of the Geordie attacks came down his side. He managed to complete 86% of his passes as well as drawing the foul which lead to Tommie Smith’s first half red card. The Paraguayan also had four efforts on goal in the game, three of which were on target – the other one was a sumptuous dink over the keepers head which struck the base of the upright.
An all around fantastic performance – hailed as a wonderful debut by all who watched the match – including Geordie legend Alan Shearer:
About the only thing missing from Almiron’s full debut was a goal but if he keeps turning in performances such as that one, I think it’s just a matter of time. They say that when you bring in a player who is that good, they improve the team around them just from the sheer confidence injection.
The Almiron signing genuinely could be enough on its own to keep Newcastle United in the Premier League this season. The win at the weekend saw them move four points clear of the drop zone with a home game against Burnley to come tomorrow evening.
As much as I am one of the worst for doing it, it is important Newcastle fans don’t put too much pressure on his shoulders. One thing I do know is that his debut was a heavily pressurised situation and the little genius didn’t even flinch. Lobbing the keeper 11 minutes into your debut? Takes some major cohones to do that.
I think there’s still a lot more to come from Almiron and if you’re a regular LFS reader, I would expect to keep seeing the name ‘Miguel Almiron’ on headlines for the foreseeable future.