ORLANDO, Fla. – Newcastle United were flirting with relegation from the English Premier League before Miguel Almiron arrived.
But since the former Atlanta United star made his debut on Feb. 11, the Magpies have picked up 10 of 15 possible points and climbed to 13th on the table.
“He’s done unbelievable. He’s been great. He’s added a different dimension to our attack,” said US national team and Newcastle defender DeAndre Yedlin after the USMNT's 1-0 win over Ecuador on Tuesday.
Almiron joined Newcastle after two stellar seasons in Atlanta that culminated in a 2018 MLS Cup championship. The 25-year-old Paraguayan garnered significant interest on the global transfer market and eventually a reported $27 million fee – records for both Newcastle and MLS.
Before Almiron arrived, Newcastle had scored one or fewer goals in 10 of their previous 12 Premier League games. In the six games Almiron has played in, the Magpies have bagged 10 goals.
“Our attack has gotten a lot less predictable now, which is good,” Yedlin said. “We’ve done pretty well [since Almiron joined]; been in the best form of our season. So it speaks a lot on him coming.”
Yedlin himself was once an MLS record transfer. His reported $4 million fee from Seattle Sounders FC to Tottenham Hotspur in 2014 was the most ever for an MLS Homegrown, but that’s since been shattered by Alphonso Davies’ transfer to Bayern Munich last year.
“It’s fantastic. Obviously to see any player come over from MLS is great,” Yedlin said. “But then to spend that much money on a player from MLS, I think it speaks a lot on the league and it speaks a lot on the player, as well. I was keeping tabs while he was over here. It was hard not to. His name was everywhere.”
Though he has yet to get his name on the score sheet, Almiron’s impact, typically in a role on the left side of Newcastle’s three-pronged attack has been undeniable. He’s shown flashes of the brilliance that fans of MLS grew so accustomed to seeing.
“We needed to win and I’m very pleased with the performance,” Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez told reporters after the Mags’ 2-0 win over Huddersfield, Almiron’s impressive debut at St. James’ Park. “Almiron did well. He was very dynamic, he plays between the lines and he will get better.”
“He’s been one of our key players,” he said on Thursday. “I think just that is great of [MLS] and I think teams in Europe will definitely start paying more attention to the talent that there is in the league because there is good talent.”
Jordan Culver of Pro Soccer USA contributed to this report.