Miguel Almiron of Atlanta United has been sold to the Premier League’s Newcastle United for around £20m ($26M+ USD). This is a club record deal for Newcastle.
Newcastle has been mired towards the relegation zone of the Premier League table for the second straight year. Almiron, a speedy midfielder, helped Atlanta win the MLS Cup with 13 goals and 11 assists in 37 games last year. He could give Newcastle a sorely needed boost as they make a spring push to stay out of the Championship League.
While Almiron was the Five Stripes best player last season, this is a great deal for them and the MLS. It’ll hurt to see Almiron go, but the writing was on the wall when Atlanta acquired Pity Martinez from River Plate last week.
Is MLS Now a Selling League?
Altanta United has absolutely broken all templates for soccer in America. They sell out a 70,000+ seat stadium. Their fans actually really truly genuinely care. They spend money on players. They’ve built a culture. Their Brad Guzan chant is genuinely world-class.
And now, they’ve developed a system of selling players that could have long-lasting benefits for the club.
First, the MLS can become a viable pipeline for Latin American players (Almiron is from Paraguay) to springboard to Europe. The model can work.
Second, the money generated from the transfer should help Atlanta United: 1) re-invest in depth and quality (as they’ve already done with Pity Martinez), and 2) build up their Development Academy and mine more players for both club and transfers.
It’s the latter that can really make an impact.
The youth club “pay-to-play” model in America is fundamentally broken. Having the financial means and system to identify, cultivate, develop, and eventually promote or sell young talent can, to paraphrase Daenerys Targaryen, break the wheel. It’s how they do it in Europe, and it works.
Exhibit A: USMNT World Cup qualifying run
Whether this is how ATL decides to use the money remains to be seen, but they’ve proven to get a lot more right than wrong in their early existence.
Does Almiron Fit with Newcastle?
This remains to be seen.
Almiron isn’t exactly a physical beast, and the Premier League is demanding.
Stylistically though, he should fit with Newcastle manager Rafa Benítez’s counter-attacking style well.
— GOL PARAGUAYO (@Gol_Paraguayo) July 1, 2018
If you care about American soccer, and it’s potential, this is a great day. Let’s hope Atlanta (continues) to get it right and invest their record bounty properly.