Newcastle United have finally broken their longstanding transfer record with the purchase of Miguel Almiron from MLS high-flyers Atlanta United. Whilst the fee is officially undisclosed, Newcastle is believed to have paid £20 million for the playmaker.
Rafa Benitez has gotten used to having his transfer ambitions cut back by Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley, but with the Spaniards contract up in the summer it was essential that the board started to take his management of the club seriously. Benitez is known for his detailed and methodical approach to player recruitment. Working with his scouting team, Almiron has been monitored for the last 18 months; during which time he has featured in the MLS team of the season twice.
Almiron represents a new breed of player in the American MLS. No longer is the league defined by ageing English cast offs like Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney, but by new upcoming talents like Josef Martinez – a teammate of Almiron at Atlanta. Having craved a true number 10 since achieving promotion to the Premier League, Newcastle fans should be impressed with his speed on the ball, creative vision and – most importantly – determined work rate.
The mood on Tyneside has been distinctly more optimistic in recent weeks after a 3-0 exhibition display against Cardiff and a surprising triumph over reigning champions Manchester City. Even punters have expressed their faith in the Magpies:
“Since the unbelievable win over champions Manchester City, a whopping 86% of bets have backed another season in the Premier League for Rafa Benitez and co.”
It is hoped that Almiron can link up with Newcastle’s top scorer Saloman Rondon and provide technical qualities to supplement the work rate of Benitez’s resilient side. Crucially, Rafa now has a strong contingent of players who speak Spanish as their first language, allowing him to better articulate hurried directions from the touchline.
United have also finalised a loan deal for Italian left-back Antonio Barreca to bolster the left back position.