Miguel Almiron finally sees his MLS season end on Saturday.
After finishing runners up in their Eastern Conference League season, the 24 year old playmaker and his Atlanta United teammates take on Portland Timbers of the Western Conference, to see who lifts the overall MLS Cup.
Played on home soil, a crowd of over 70,000 will wonder if this is the last time they see Miguel Almiron turn out in their colours.
It has been made clear in recent weeks (see below) that Almiron is Rafa Benitez’ number one January target.
Now The Mail report that their information is that a transfer deal has been agreed with Atlanta United.
The only problem being that Mike Ashley is yet to sign it off.
The newspaper says the deal is understood to be for an initial loan and then £15m to be paid in the summer, in what must surely be a binding clause if Atlanta have agreed to such a deal. They aren’t going to risk Newcastle having their star player and asset on loan, with then the possibility of deciding they don’t want to buy him.
The Mail say that NUFC’s head of recruitment has been in Atlanta agreeing the terms of the (potential) deal and now it just needs Ashley’s agreement to go ahead.
Ayoze Perez has shown once again this season that whatever abilities he does have, he isn’t capable of being a first choice Premier League number 10.
Whilst obviously the Paraguayan international is an unknown quantity at PL level, Miguel Almiron would be an exciting addition to Rafa’s squad, with an awful lot of potential after what he has produced in the MLS.
The Mag – 30 November 2018:
Miguel Almiron has been making headlines this week.
Atlanta United’s star asset has been widely reported for some time to be a January target for Newcastle United, and other clubs, though Wednesday brought news that Newcastle had stolen a march with a number of newspapers reporting NUFC had sent representatives to start talks ahead of a hopeful transfer in this next window.
Atlanta fans had also commented on the news and we published an interesting range of views (see below) from them.
Thursday night (in New York/America – early hours of today for the UK) have seen Miguel Almiron in action once again.
In what is looking increasingly likely to be his penultimate appearance for Atlanta, he has helped them to reach the MLS Cup Final.
A two-legged semi-final saw Atlanta leading 3-0 (Almiron scored one) from the first leg and last night the second leg took place at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Miguel Almiron was subbed in the 90th minute with the game goalless, the New York Red Bulls scoring an injury time consolation but Atlanta winning 3-1 on aggregate.
Steven Taylor’s old team Portland Timbers beat Sporting Kansas City 3-2 yesterday (early hours today in the UK) and a goalless first leg means they will face Almiron and Atlanta United.
The final will be played at Atlanta’s home stadium which holds over 70,000, so a massive advantage for Miguel Almiron and his teammates. No worries about filling it as well, as over 70,000 were there for the semi final against New York Red Bulls.
That final is on Saturday 8 December (early hours of Sunday in the UK) and then all eyes on where the Paraguayan playmaker ends up.
The Mag – 29 November 2018:
The Bournemouth match saw Daniel Campos in the crowd at St James Park, agent of Miguel Almiron, he watched on as Newcastle won 2-1 heading into the international break.
Newcastle have been linked with the Paraguayan playmaker for some time now, each of the last three windows there has been claims of transfer interest.
On the day that Newcastle beat Bournemouth nine days ago, it was revealed that NUFC had sent people to watch Atlanta United playing New York City.
After being seen at St James Park, Almiron’s agent told AM 1080 in Paraguay:
“There is interest in Miguel Almiron and Oscar Romero.
“I’m in the process of working in England and here are two or three clubs interested in Almiron.
“There’s nothing concrete but certainly Almiron will play in the Premier League.”
Moving forward, reports late on Wednesday night in various English media, reported that Newcastle have made Miguel Almiron their top target this January and are travelling to Atlanta for talks. Reports also claiming that Newcastle representatives have already travelled to the States to watch the player nine times this season.
The playmaker has two games at the most left in his MLS campaign and by 8 December at the very latest, his season will be over.
In the regular Eastern Conference League season, Atlanta United finished runners up to New York Red Bulls. The league season ending on 11 November with a 3-1 win for Atlanta over New York City, Miguel Almiron getting one of the goals.
The league season is then followed by the MLS Cup which sees six of the top clubs from each (Western and Eastern) conference play in a cup knockout process, with finally one from each Conference meeting in the MLS Cup final.
On Sunday, Miguel Almiron helped Atlanta United to beat New York Red Bulls 3-0 in front of 70,016 at home, with them now hot favourites to reach the final when they meet for the second leg of the semi final tomorrow (Friday).
If they go through, Almiron and Atlanta will face either Portland Timbers or Sporting Kansas City, who drew 0-0 in the first leg of the Western Conference side of the draw.
A £25m price tag has been mentioned in various reports on both sides of the Atlantic, my guess would be that any initial buying price would be lower than that, but still almost certainly taking us beyond the 2005 club record of £16.8m for Michael Owen, with no doubt further money to be paid if Miguel Almiron hits various targets.
The player’s wages are reported as currently being £1.6m (just over £30,000 per week), so any Newcastle offer on that front should be able to meet the player’s demands.
Since moving to Atlanta for the 2017 season, Almiron has started 63 games (2 off the bench) and has scored 22 goals with 21 assists, involved in 43 goals altogether. This season alone he has 13 goals and 11 assists so far.
So what do Atlanta United fans think of the reports of Newcastle travelling to try and buy Miguel Almiron? Here are comments from various Atlanta fan message boards and their supporters on Twitter:
‘Miggy HAS to win mls cup
If he goes to Newcastle he will never win another trophy.’
‘Prediction: Mike Ashley offers a *staggering* bid of $3.5 million for Almiron
And then spends the rest of the day worrying that he’s offering too much.’
‘I don’t see this going anywhere, Newcastle is way too cheap to meet the price Atlanta is sure to ask.’
‘For the Miggy Fans that don’t know EPL.
We need a EPL explainer for the teams he’s rumored to go to. Like a a breakdown of coach, tactics, form, style, who has the best kits, etc… I’ve got faith in you guys to help us out in your own special way.’
‘Coach is Rafa Benitez. Well regarded – he’s holding that team together. Generally pragmatic, tactically savvy.
On the downside, their owner is a dumpster fire and IMO miggy would be the best player on that team.’
‘I’ll root for for whichever team he lands on…
If they win the MLS Cup they need to build a statue of Tata, Miggy & Josef. The phenomenon of ATL UTD and the city’s love affair with this team is unlike any sports story I’ve ever witnessed in my 54 years. It needs a memorial posthaste. ATL took MLS from zero to 70,000 in 1 second.’
‘As a Newcastle fan I would be ecstatic.
Rafa is a good coach and Miggy playing for him would not be a bad thing.
Newcastle need a 10 and Rafa has the team going in the right direction.
Miggy is the missing piece that would keep them in the top half he’d easily be the best player in the squad.’
‘Unfortunately only way I see this happening is if Rafa has kidnapped CA$hley and is forging his signature on the checks.’
‘I just want him to be as happy as he’s made me, so whoever can give him the most minutes and expertise, you go, son!’
‘As a Newcastle fan, I would love Miggy there.
I have heard a few times that the US investors rumored to potentially purchase NUFC from Ashley is being headed up by Blank. As a fan, Please Dear God, let that be true.
Unfortunately, as a Newcastle fan, we have heard tons of rumors only to have our hopes dashed by Fat Ashley.
In my opinion, Ashley has not paid for anyone as owner and I don’t think he will now unless it becomes part of a business transaction to get him his 300 million asking price with no relegation clause. Just my two cents.’
‘Club is a shambles under Mike Ashley.’
‘Miggy, you deserve so much better than Newcastle.’
‘I don’t expect Miggy to stay with us forever, but wherever he does leave us for, I want it to be a team where he’ll play. And play often.’
‘Why would he do that (go to Newcastle)?
ATL UTD is 19th WORLDWIDE attendance average & is part of a straight shot up.
Newcastle United is basically a quagmire.
He’d start but…. hmmmmmm.
IF he’s going BPL, I’d expect Spurs caliber, minimum.’
‘I’ve supported Newcastle for a while now. Trust me, they aren’t gonna splash the cash needed to get Miggy in.’
‘I really hope he holds out for a better situation he doesn’t deserve to be relegated to the championship.’