Football Features

Miguel Almiron’s main function at Newcastle Utd “isn’t one he likes”

By Harry Edwards

Miguel Almiron: Are Newcastle tactics nullifying Paraguayan's creativity?

Published: 18:00, 18 November 2020

When Miguel Almiron signed for Newcastle United in January 2019 there was a lot of excitement among the club’s fans.

Not only because they had finally broken their transfer record for the first time in 14 years, but the Paraguayan was an exciting player full of potential who had performed well in MLS.

However, things just haven’t worked out for him as expected. Despite some good performances on the pitch, Almiron was regularly cited for a perceived inability to score, taking almost a year to register his first Newcastle goal.

It was hoped that this would be a sign of things to come, but the Toon Army are still waiting for his potential to come to the fore – and Almiron’s Tyneside career could have all been over in the summer.

Miguel Almiron

  • Age: 26
  • League stats at Newcastle
  • Football Index value: £0.71 (Buy)
  • Chances created: 50 (third-highest at club)
  • Assists: 3 (sixth-highest)
  • Goals: 4 (fifth-highest)
  • Shots: 51 (highest)

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According to the player’s agent, Daniel Campos, Almiron may have been playing for a new team this term if circumstances were different over the summer, while also lamenting the fact the Paraguayan is being played out of position.

“In Newcastle, he was entrusted to play in a function that perhaps isn’t the one he likes,” Campos told Paraguayan radio station Universo 970AM (translation by Roberto Rojas).

“He’s able to play in numerous positions, that’s why all the managers have praised him because he’s a player that in a game, he can play in two or three different positions.

“He’ll always have the sacrifice and the quality that he has is undoubtable, there’s nothing that he has to show in Europe. There in England, they say he’s a ‘Premier League-style’ player.”

For Atlanta United, Almiron largely played as the team’s main attacking midfielder, a role that gave him the chance to both create and score. His final season for the club saw Almiron score 12 goals and record 13 assists, form that convinced Newcastle to sign the Paraguayan.

But since joining Newcastle, he hasn’t really stuck to one position. For Rafael Benitez he was often found on the left wing, a position he is not a stranger to, but the Spaniard’s tactics meant Almiron, and indeed his teammates, had to be more focused on defending.

Following Steve Bruce’s arrival at the start of the 2019/20 season, Almiron has been shifted to the right with very little time in his favoured position. In fact, Almiron has played more as a centre midfielder for Newcastle than he has in his more favoured central attacking midfielder role (744 minutes to 440).

While that versatility is praised by many, as Campos highlighted, it has cost Almiron his creativity.

“To tell you the truth when they tell me this (critics in Paraguay who question Newcastle’s profile and tactics), I tell them that the English clubs are not ‘small’,” Campos added.

“There are teams who are very big and other teams that are ‘normal.’ But, yes the tactical style of play doesn’t really benefit him, but I think in Europe, you have to run and work hard and there are no players who play just standing there.

“Obviously, if it was a team with much more movement and possession, Miguel would’ve showcased more.

“Last year, he played as a second forward. He played behind the striker. But Miguel is a very versatile player, he adapts. He is a player that doesn’t have a problem in working in different functions.”

Although Almiron’s contribution of 50 chances created since joining Newcastle is the third-highest at the club during that spell, it is some way off the 136 he created in his two MLS seasons for Atlanta United. Of course, the difference in difficulty between the two divisions will also affect output.

Breaking it down into averages, for Newcastle Almiron creates 1.1 chances per 90 minutes compared to 2.16 for Atlanta. Naturally, this is going to be due to the position he is playing and the differing tactics the two sides use, but that is the point Campos was getting at.

Newcastle haven’t seen the best of Almiron because they are not playing to his strengths. It could even be argued that the Magpies are simply not the right fit for Almiron, who may have thrived more in an attacking, open team in the Premier League.

But only time will tell whether Almiron remains at Newcastle and their tactics change, or he moves on to pastures new.