Miguel Almirón had scored not once but twice in Newcastle United’s midweek FA Cup venture to West Bromwich. In the end, Newcastle had to hold a bit, as West Brom came from three down to narrow the lead to just one...but that’s another story.
The most note worthy point was the performance of Almirón, who was a delight to watch.
But, despite his undoubted ability, that's not always been the case on Tyneside.
Almirón’s career to date, in England at least, has been one of unfulfilled promise. English fans are a demanding bunch, and Newcastle’s are no exceptions. The diminutive Paraguayan has been a Premier League player since January last year, and the fans in black and white would have expected more than they’ve seen from their £21m man to date.
He chipped in every now and then, but Almirón wasn’t a regular scorer at either of his first two clubs – Cerro Porteño in his homeland or Lanús of Argentina. It was in 2017 and 2018 that Atlanta United of the United States got to see, and benefit from, the best of the midfielder’s short career to date.
In 62 MLS games across a two-year period, he netted a respectable 21 times. It’s a record most forwards would be commended for, but it came from a cute, technical attacking midfielder. And this is precisely why Newcastle went out and signed him.
But the sizeable step up in class has shown, with Almirón unable to recreate the wondergoals and dazzling displays that saw him light up league football in the States…
Against Championship leaders West Brom, Paraguay’s best creative talent was just that – creative. An opportunity passed him by early on, but as one of Newcastle’s recent signing success stories Allan Saint-Maximin drove forward, a pass into Almirón suddenly became the best option.
It only became so because of superb movement and application from the Paraguayan. The diagonal run confused his opponents and helped his teammate, allowing a slotted pass to send him one-on-one with goalkeeper Jonathan Bond.
And then just 12 minutes later, Almirón scored a totally different type of goal. Between the ball running free and it crashing into the top corner, there came just one intervention – Miguel Almirón’s first-time shot.
Then in the second half, Valentino Lazaro’s first Newcastle goal was made possible by Almirón’s smart spreading of play as he found wide man Saint-Maximin with unerring accuracy to set the Magpies on their way to an unassailable lead.
It was an overall joyous display from Almirón, whose footballing brain is as good as anyone’s at the club. Steve Bruce could do with his best outfield player to continue this form for the rest of the season. If that happens, Newcastle will comfortably stay up.
The blunt reality is that Almirón is a player who gets lost at times. He found his old self in Newcastle’s last match. The question half of Tyneside are asking is: how can we make sure he doesn’t get lost again?
They need him, and they know it.
Source : 90min