We’re seven games into Newcastle United’s 2019-20 Premier League season where the Magpies are sitting in a situation that they’ve come accustomed to in recent times: the relegation zone.
After seven games, Newcastle sit 19th with four losses, two draws and only one solitary win against Spurs. Following their 5-0 trashing by Leicester on Sunday, many of the fans and pundits have turned their attention onto the various players who have performed below their standard, which includes Paraguayan midfielder Miguel Almiron.
Back in January, the 25-year-old came over to Tyneside from Atlanta United as the club’s most expensive ever transfer.
Under Rafa Benitez, Almiron became a huge factor in helping the side escape relegation and achieve safety by finishing 13th. In the next few months, however, things would change drastically. Benitez would leave the club after failing to reach an agreement with owner Mike Ashley, sending a sign of cynicism towards pundits and supporters when his successor Steve Bruce was announced.
For the Paraguayan, the player has received criticism from pundits and numerous Newcastle fans for his lack of productivity as he’s closing in 20 games in English football with scoring a goal or providing an assist, but for all the criticism, there is some things I’ve noticed.
What’s going on
Bruce was quoted to have said about the Paraguayan’s best position that he is “Not an out and out centre-forward or a natural number ten either, he is an old-fashioned inside forward and so we have got to try and get the best out of him.”
Anyone who has seemed Almiron closely for club and country knows that’s simply not true.
When being able demonstrate your productivity, you do so by playing in the position you’re best at. That position would be as an attacking midfielder which Almiron has shown that at club level & internationally for Paraguay too.
His former Atlanta United manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino once called him a “atypical number 10”, but mainly functioning on an attacking side. Under Benitez, he played at left wing but was able to use him properly by creating chances, going at full pace and providing danger for opposing Premier League defenders.
From a critical standpoint, you can see that Almiron seems pressured and stressed by the way he’s been playing, and that’s where the critics come about if he’s “Premier League ready”, which personally, I think he is given what he’s able to show during the latter half of last season and using the eye test in previous games shows that he knows how to play in English football.
So how do you solve this? Well, unless Bruce changes his system from a defensive side that Bruce is implementing (which doesn’t seem to be working), I just don’t see how Almiron and Newcastle can move forward being wasted in a position that doesn’t function him by being able to go in diagonally from the right wing, that’s my issue.
Such a change would mean that he can also attack by being able to move in the space where he’s knows best and as a inside forward like Bruce is trying to play him in, I feel that means he would have to go in diagonally and doesn’t really have a familiarity of that position.
Until then, we can only hope something can be done for the Paraguayan.