Allan Saint-Maximin has grabbed the lion’s share of the Newcastle United headlines but is there a case for saying, that in reality Miguel Almiron has been the more effective player?
When he arrived at the end of the January 2019 transfer window, Miguel Almiron instantly transformed Newcastle’s play and helped produce impressive form.
The Paraguayan gave Newcastle the pace to get the team up the pitch quickly in transition, the kind of player Rafa Benitez had repeatedly said Newcastle needed.
Benitez quickly changed to more attacking tactics now he had Almiron, giving him a free role to roam, mainly down the left and centre, as part of an attacking trio with Rondon and Perez.
In nine Miguel Almiron Premier League starts, Newcastle picked up 16 points with five wins and a draw, the team scoring 15 goals as Almiron helped open up the opposition.
This season, Almiron has been hampered by Steve Bruce playing him out of position in most games on the right, often more as an extra defender rather than giving him a reasonable chance of doing damage going forward.
When they have been both on the pitch together, it is Allan Saint-Maximin who has had far more license to attack, Almiron expected to cover back a lot more.
However, whilst ASM has (deservedly in many ways) captured so many headlines, especially for his dribbling ability, in recent times has Miguel Almiron shown himself to be quietly the more productive?
In his last 21 starts and one sub appearance (all competitions), Miguel Almiron has scored eight goals, including in the last two games against Bournemouth and West Ham. In the seven matches he has scored in starting with Palace at home on 21 December 2019, Newcastle have won four and drawn three.
I think when ASM isn’t on the pitch, Miguel Almiron gets far more license to get in attacking positions and no surprise that four of the seven matches where Almiron has scored, Saint-Maximin didn’t start.
I am not advocating leaving ASM out in favour of Almiron, instead I think it is a no-brainer to play a system that allows both players license to get forward and that if we can get the Paraguayan into decent shooting positions he will score goals. Indeed in this squad, Almiron is arguably the best chance of goals, certainly far more likely to score than Joelinton who doesn’t even seem to have much desire to get into goalscoring positions.
Allan Saint-Maximin is a great prospect but just maybe Miguel Almiron is Newcastle’s real star player.