Newcastle pull off club-record Almiron deal
Newcastle United have completed a club-record deadline-day move for midfielder Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United.
The on-off move had been mooted since December, when Almiron led Atlanta to MLS Cup glory, and was finalised on Thursday as Newcastle splashed out a reported £20.5million on the Paraguay international.
The deal sees the Premier League's longest standing club-record broken, with the Magpies belatedly agreeing a deal to surpass their £16.5m signing of Michael Owen in 2005.
Almiron was nominated for the MVP award in MLS in 2018, having quickly established himself as one of the league's standout stars after arriving at the expansion side the previous season.
The 24-year-old scored 21 goals in 62 regular season MLS games, contributing 28 assists. He netted once and supplied two assists in six playoff matches.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) January 31, 2019
"I'm very happy and eager to start and to meet my new team mates," Almiron told NUFC TV. "The league is very competitive, this is a historic club, and Rafa Benitez himself were the main reasons why I am here now.
"I think it is a great responsibility, something beautiful for me, and I will try to offer the best I can to repay the trust the club put in me."
The move comes as a boost for both Rafael Benitez and Newcastle, with the manager out of contract at the end of the season amid fan frustration at Mike Ashley's ownership of the club.
"We were following Miguel Almiron for a while, and we saw a player with some pace in attack, who can play behind the striker. We have someone who can score goals and give assists," Benitez said.
"We know that MLS is a different challenge to the Premier League but he has the potential to do what we are expecting, and what we need.
"From talking to the lad, you can tell that he is really focused and wants to do well. He wants to be successful and he wants to help the team, to score goals and give assists if it is possible.
75 & 100 - Since the start of 2017, Miguel Almirón is one of two players to have a 75% completion rate on passes ending in the final third while creating at least 100 chances (min. 400 such passes incl. playoffs). Catalyst. pic.twitter.com/fexqsNToks
— OptaJack (@OptaJack) January 29, 2019
"His impact in MLS has been really good - he's been one of the best players this year - and hopefully he can give us more competition and more quality in the final third.
"I am pleased that the hard work behind the scenes has ended positively and I thank everyone for their efforts."
The deal also represents a record for MLS, with a $27m switch the biggest transfer fee in league history. Bayern Munich winger Alphonso Davies previously held the $22m record.
Almiron became Newcastle's second signing of the day, with Antonio Barreca also joining the club on loan from Monaco for the rest of the season.
There is an option to make the move permanent at the end of the campaign. Barreca left Torino for Monaco in July but has failed to impress for the Ligue 1 strugglers.