Miguel Almiron’s name should be in the Oxford dictionary next to the term ‘mixed bag’. His two years on Tyneside perfectly describes the phrase which is defined as ‘having both positive and negative qualities or aspects of a performance’.
Against Leicester last weekend, the Paraguay international’s lack of composure in the final third was evident as he failed to pick out the easy pass on numerous occasions when it mattered most.
This isn’t the first time he has lacked quality in a Toon shirt. It took Almiron 11 months to start repaying the record £20million we paid for him when he registered his first Newcastle goal against Crystal Palace in December 2019.
A recurring theme of his time here is his tendency to miss sitters. Many times last season you found yourself saying, “Almiron should have scored, shouldn’t he?” after a game.
Legendary Chronicle journalist John Gibson appears to agree with me, with Gibbo labelling the player as ‘lightweight’, suggesting he’s ‘lost his way’ and questioning whether we’d even get our money back should interest arrive:
“He cost the club £20m and I wonder if they would get their money back never mind make a profit if they sold him during this transfer window.
“I would actually doubt it. Sadly Almiron has lost his way without ever making a defining mark on the English game.
“More and more he represents a headless chicken running for the sake of it rather than to effect.
“Willing, yes, relentless certainly, but lightweight.
“Maybe Almiron would look a better player in a better side with better tactics. Most would. But has he earned that right?”
‘Headless chicken’ has grown into somewhat of a cliche among supporters to describe what Almiron brings to the team.
His work rate is one of his best attributes, but at times it does appear aimless. Playing the game at a hundred miles an hour wouldn’t be needed if he just slowed down and used his brain.
There is clearly a decent player there waiting to be unlocked. One of his best spells since arriving – despite not getting a goal or an assist – was when Rafa deployed him on the left of a three alongside Rondon and Perez. He was a menace for defences, and I remember him being instrumental in our 3-2 turnaround win against Everton in March 2019.
Has Gibbo also got a point by mentioning our tactics? Atalanta fans tweeted me after Sunday’s game to say that he is being wasted by Bruce on the right flank, believing the number 10 role to be where he performs best.
As it stands, Almiron has not looked great value for money and has failed to be the productive player we need him to be – but there is time to turn it around.
With Fraser and Saint-Maximin sidelined, he gets his chance to put his stamp down on this Newcastle side and prove me wrong. There will hardly be a chance to rest as our other attacking options look even worse.
I’m rooting for Almiron to prove me wrong. I like him and admire the graft that he puts in but I don’t rate him as highly as I had hoped to when he first burst through the door.