Following confirmation of Miguel Almiron’s club record move to Newcastle United, we’ve been in touch with Paraguayan reporter Roberto Rojas – a man who’s followed the exciting playmaker throughout his career.
Roberto has been following the deal closely over the past few months, but he’s been following Almiron’s progress over the past few years – be
Without further adieu, here’s what he said during our Q&A following Almiron’s big move from the MLS:
Q1) What sort of player is Miguel Almiron? If you had to compare him to any current player in world football, who would you compare him to?
“I think if I had to compare him to a sort of player in world football today- some of the comparisons have been from Angel Di Maria, I think that’s the reasonable one.
“He has a good left foot, speed, agility, great thinking on and off the ball. He’s a quality number 10 that doesn’t even play like an typical one as he can play as a winger as well when needed.
“He is also a player that works hard to track back. He’s as good defensively as he is offensively and a free kick specialist as well with a good shot.
“He does get fouled a lot but does so to win those fouls. The importance to his teammates is clear instantly.”
Q2) What are his weaknesses as a player?
“One of the big worries I have will be how well he will manage in a league as physical as the Premier League.
“Also in the role he plays – how he can improve on his weak right foot when needed to be that versatile player under Rafa Benitez? However, I’m hopeful.”
Q3) I’ve seen him described as ‘the best player in the MLS’. That’s great to hear, and I see he got into double figures for goals and assists last season, but I also realise he’s yet to play in any of Europe’s top leagues. What convinces you that he’s worth £20m and someone who will be a hit at this level?
“It’s because he is. Even though Josef Martinez won the MVP for the goalscoring record, I think if you remove that, Miggy is hands down the best player in MLS and this league has seen in a long time. At the age of 23 and 24, he’s that different player that I just think because of the quality that he brings, he’s different from the rest. Quick, intelligent, proven goalscorer, a creator- the whole package.
“I think this move is going to break the stigma of the stereotype MLS has been demonstrating to the world and should he be successful, who’s to say the young South Americans that are excelling there won’t be interested by the top 5 league European leagues?with Almiron, this is the start of something new
“Atlanta did a great job with all the multiple young South Americans that led them to an MLS Cup last month and Almiron was centerstage for it.”
Q4) What is his attitude and character like? He looks full of smiles which is always nice, but he could have the weight of Tyneside on his shoulders given he’s set to be our big new £20m buy. Do you think he’ll be able to handle a demanding 52,000 crowd and the expectation that comes with being our new club record signing?
“Paraguayans are known for their never give up attitude.”
“Having spoken to close friends and family members & his agent Dani Campos, Miguel is a humble person and that personality on & off the pitch have made him one of the most important and lovable people in MLS that hopefully will go a long way in his career.
“I think he knows there will be a lot of pressure but I’m confident with the personality that he is, the coolness that he is, the humble character that he is on and off the pitch, he will succeed but of course, Rafa will need to help him just as much as he will help Rafa and the rest of the team.
“He will bring smiles. LOTS & LOTS OF SMILES. I know many Newcastle fans have been negative and down in the dumps lately because of the recent state of the club but here’s hoping a little bit of cheer from Miggy will bring positive vibes to Tyneside. Don’t believe me? Look at the team photos.
“His English isn’t perfect but is improving year after year, even though it’s not at a level that it should be. However that won’t stop him from learning a lot with his new manager Rafa Benitez and the five Spanish-speaking players currently at Newcastle.”
Q5) The city of Newcastle has often been described as a goldfish bowl, with any star player likely to be stopped for pictures and asked for autographs wherever they go. Newcastle is a city that lives and breathes football – 99% are NUFC fans and 90% live for the football, so it’s not like other big cities where players can easily blend into the background. Do you feel Almiron will thrive in this environment or is he quite a shy and private?
“Yes, it’ll be very different because of the fact that at Atlanta, he was left alone even though many people that adore him, there were the occasional photos and whatnot – but he’s more of a family man anyway.
“He’s Humble, married and therefore he doesn’t go out too much but because of his personality, I think he would be happy to meet with the fans in Newcastle.”
“He’s open to anything, plus he brings that wildcard and different personality to him! Humble, young South American with a great heart and confidence to do better.”
6) He can’t play on Saturday against Spurs as he’s awaiting an imminent work permit, however we’re hoping he can be ready to play ASAP, starting with our trip to Wolves a week on Monday. What are his fitness levels like? Do you think he could be ready to start straight away – or should Rafa protect him and bed him into the side?
“He’s at 100%. He’s been undergoing preseason training since the beginning of the year at Atlanta before going to Newcastle so I believe because of the break between the Spurs & Wolves match, that’ll give him enough time to start straight ahead, I think Rafa will give him the ok and confidence to do so.”
A massive thank you to Roberto for taking the time to speak to us this week, with him being one of the most on-the-ball reporters when it’s come to Almiron over the past few months.
He was an absolute gent and clearly knows his stuff when it comes to the Paraguayan playmaker!
Here’s hoping he’s a success – with Rojas and fellow Paraguayan Roque Santa Cruz clearly believing he has everything it takes to be a star at St James’ Park: