An assessment of Arsenal’s rumoured interest in Miguel Almiron
Miguel Almiron just helped Atlanta United win MLS Cup in just the franchise’s second year of existence. While Atlanta would presumably prefer to keep the 24-year-old playmaker as they attempt to defend their title next season, there is a decent chance the young Paraguayan has played his last match with the new MLS side.
Almiron’s impressive play over the past 2 seasons with United have reportedly put him on the radars of some bigger clubs around the world. Arsenal, West Ham and Newcastle are a couple of the Premier League clubs to have been linked with Almiron already. Could the Gunners make a move for the player once the next transfer window opens in January?
Would Atlanta be willing to part ways with such a key cog considering they would stand an excellent shot at repeating as champs next season if Almiron were to stay? Assuming the team stays largely the same, you don’t need to read a lot of football betting advice columns to know that United would be among the odds-on favorites to win MLS again next season after their historic 2018 campaign. If they do decide to try and cash in on the player, though, the line of suitors figures to be lengthy.
Of course, Almiron likely wouldn’t come cheap. Atlanta United president Darren Eales has hinted that it could take as much as £30 million to get Atlanta to part ways with Almiron. He told the Mirror, “I will only get out of bed when it starts with a “3”. That is the sort of level it has to be for a player of his quality. The reality is he is under contract at a club that has just won a title and he plays in front of over 70,000 fans and has an owner who is a billionaire and has had the taste of winning. So it has got to be an offer that is going to be good for the player, good for the league and most importantly good for Atlanta United.”
Newcastle reportedly came close to landing Almiron’s signature, but Eales said that no significant discussions regarding a potential move have taken place as of yet. Eales added, “We have seen the speculation that has been frankly derisory. The figures have been chump change. Those sorts of offers are not going to get us to even think about it. It is going to have to be a serious offer. He is someone who has spoken about challenging at the top from when we signed him. It has to be the right offer and club. Do we get something appropriate?”
Almiron found the back of the net 13 times for Atlanta this past term while also handing out another 13 assists. A move to a team like Newcastle may present more playing time for Almiron, whereas he may find himself a bit lower on the pecking order if he were to join a bigger club like Arsenal.
Newcastle are also more in need of his abilities. Huddersfield are the only team in the Premier League to have scored fewer than Newcastle’s 13 goals so far this season. That said, Newcastle have never paid as much as £30 million for any player. The team’s record signing remains Michael Owen, who came to Newcastle from Real Madrid for £17 million back in 2005. If Almiron’s price tag is really up around £30 million, Newcastle may have no choice but to pull out of the running. That could change if Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is able to sell the club any time soon.
Arsenal are a team that could easily pay the fee required to secure Almiron’s transfer, but whether the Gunners actually need the player at this point is uncertain. Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan are already logging the lion’s share of the minutes in Almiron’s preferred positions. A need could open up if Arsenal were to sell one of them, but there has not been much talk regarding either player being sold any time soon.
Arsenal have exceeded some expectations this season, so it seems doubtful that Unai Emery would see the need to slash the playing time for either Ozil or Mkhitaryan. Arsenal could always sign Almiron with an eye on the future, but it would make more sense for the player to join a team that needs his qualities from the start.