What Miguel Almiron could bring to the Premier League:
Just 4 years after being founded, Atlanta United lifted the 2018 MLS Cup. League top scorer and MVP Josef Martinez may have stolen the headlines but if you don’t follow the MLS, you are unlikely to have heard of Miguel Almirón. The midfielder has been in terrific form for The Five Stripes this season, scoring 13 goals and laying on a further 11 assists. His role in Atlanta’s sensational year has not gone unnoticed with Newcastle reportedly making him their number one target for the January transfer window. With a host of other Premier League clubs linked to him, including Arsenal, a move to Europe may be imminent for the Paraguayan.
Limited Chances in South AmericaAlmirón spent the early stages his career with the lesser known Cerro Porteño. Five years in their youth system earnt him his first-team debut, aged 18. In spite of his side’s Paraguayan Primera División triumph in 2013, the midfielder struggled to nail down a first-team place with just 39 appearances in 3 years. He subsequently left Paraguay for Argentinian side Lanús in 2015. The MLS Cup winner was once again largely a squad player in Argentina, making just 13 appearances in his first season and 15 in the second. Although he managed just 3 goals during his stint with Lanus, the goals were crucial in securing their Primera Division title, including one against San Lorenzo in the final. Despite his success with silverware, Almirón chose to leave Latin America for Atlanta United.
Hitting the Ground Running
“Miguel is obviously the heartbeat of our team when he’s out there.” Jeff Larentowicz, a teammate of AlmirónThe $8 million signing certainly lived up to expectation. A brace in his second game opened his account for the club. A hat-trick followed a week later for the Paraguayan against Houston Dynamo before another brace against New York City FC. His 9 goals and 8 assists by the end of the season were instrumental in Atlanta’s 4th place finish, an impressive feat for the new franchise. This earned the midfielder several accolades including MLS Best XI and Newcomer of the Year.
Trophy TriumphThe South American built on his superb debut season with even better performances in 2018. His output increased to 24 goal contributions in the season, including braces against LA FC and Montreal, which were vital to Atlanta’s 2nd place finish in the Eastern Conference. They eventually went on to claim the MLS Cup by beating Portland Timbers 2-0 in the final, adding to the Paraguayan’s trophy cabinet. Almirón was named in the MLS Best XI for a second year running as well as the All-Star game.
Style of PlayThe 5ft 9in Paraguayan is an exceptional dribbler which, coupled with his frightening pace, makes him a nightmare for defenders. A skillful attacking midfielder, Almirón’s burst of acceleration and fast footwork are a crucial part of his game, making him an ideal fit for sides lacking pace in the final third. He thrives when creating chances too, averaging 2.1 key passes per game last season. Alongside his ability as a playmaker, Almirón is a threat when given space outside of the box, with many of his goals last season coming from long range. However, there have been question marks over the 24-year-old’s finishing, or rather lack of it. He is not afraid to test the keeper, shown by his 3.8 shots per game. Yet on occasions, Almiron is wasteful with chances in front of goal, perhaps why he didn’t score above 20 goals last season despite the considerable amount of shots he had at goal. The Atlanta midfielder is also very one footed, which could make him quite predictable against better defenders in better leagues.
A New Trend?Regardless, Miguel Almirón is certainly an exciting player to watch on the ball. Arsenal reportedly agreed personal terms with him earlier in the year, but nothing has materialised so far. An increasing number of players from the MLS like Zack Steffen and Alphonso Davies are being signed by top European clubs. As a result, we hope a club signs the Paraguayan international in January to truly test whether players succeeding in the MLS can cut in the top leagues. For more transfer updates and articles, follow us on Twitter