From the minute Miguel Almiron was confirmed as a Newcastle United player there was considerable hype around Tyneside for the Paraguayan. Six games into his Magpies career, and having formed a partnership up top with Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon, Newcastle look like a side capable of attacking once again.
Expectations can sometimes get the better of a new signing, especially when they come into a club for a record fee. Add in coming from a league with a lower standard of football in the MLS and there was the real potential for Almiron to falter at the first hurdle.
However, Newcastle’s Asuncion-born starlet did no such thing. Instead, he rose to the challenge of the Premier League and excelled.
It’s not just in regards to his own personal form, either.
Yes, his direct running with the ball and unorthodox style have made him a handful for almost all opposition defenders he has come up against so far. He has an incredible ability to almost gallop and hurdle his way past tackles and challenges when he’s in full flow with the ball, and its not something seen very often in the quite technical, passing-focused Premier League.
Yet, arguably even more key since his arrival, he has combined perfectly with his two fellow Spanish-speaking forwards in the Newcastle line-up. Both Perez and Rondon have hit a rich vein of form following Almiron’s arrival, and that is no coincidence.
The Paraguayan’s direct running presents a real problem for defenders, who are having to pre-empt where the Newcastle man is going to end up and often commit multiple players to challenging him.
That creates space in and around the rest of the pitch, allowing Perez to drift into and cause problems. While he may not have world class technical abilities, Perez is gifted with two crucial skills – work rate and a poacher’s instinct.
The Spaniard is one of Newcastle’s top goalscorers in the modern Premier League era, and a lot of those goals have come down to being in the right place at the right time. His efforts against Everton the other week were prime examples of that, latching onto the end of efforts from Almiron and Rondon to fire into the back of the net.
He knows instinctively where to be in the box to get a chance, and can finish them. That’s not to say he doesn’t have a spectacular goal in his locker, but his bread and butter is notably less spectacular.
Not that any Newcastle fan will complain, so long as he puts it into the back of the net.
Rondon, meanwhile, has been an absolute revelation this season.
There were real doubts from the fans when his name kept being suggested as a top target by Rafa Benitez, but what an inspired move that has proved to be.
Having arrived looking somewhat dubious – and as it transpired, lacking any real match fitness – the Venezuelan got to work on the training ground and, after a run of matches under his belt, hit the form that he has delighted the Magpies faithful with all season since.
He’s an absolute monster up front; a defender’s worst nightmare. He’s a big, unmovable object, who I swear seems to have velcro for a chest the way he brings the ball down dead each time, but unlike a lot of the traditional big men in football, he has some real technique as well.
In Mitrovic fans had a passionate big centre forward who could bully his way around a defence. As such the fans loved him, but he had discipline issues initially and even after he didn’t do much beyond his strength. On reflection, he was very one dimensional.
Rondon is like the upgraded version of that. He is equally as strong, though he isn’t going to go flying in for a rash challenge. As a player, the Venezuelan is massively the opposite – once needing consoled when at West Brom after accidentally causing injury to another player.
Instead, he has the ability to bring the ball down in an aerial challenge, but then accurately and sensibly distribute it. And for a big man, he’s surprisingly agile. His strike against Everton showed some real athleticism to hook the ball out of the sky and into Jordan Pickford’s net.
The player is said to be loving his time of Tyneside, and his manager and teammates are to. The one downside is that he is only on loan at St. James’ Park, and with the rich vein of form he’s found, West Brom aren’t going to let him go for anything shy of a fortune. Yet, Newcastle need to accept that, and shill it out if they have any hope of success going into next season.
Yes, he’s a bit older than you’d like to pay for a big-money striker at 29, and there are arguments that he could just be a one season wonder, but I’d rather not be left with just Joselu to replicate Rondon’s impact next season. It’d also go a long way to appeasing Benitez ahead of required contract talks, and truthfully is a deal that should have been completed as a permanent deal last summer, rather than this one.
Either way though, and no matter what the summer does hold for Newcastle, here in the present Newcastle have some real positivity up front. Goals are starting to go in at a good rate, and results are coming along with them.
Newcastle’s ‘Three Amigos’ are firing at the moment, and that’s a real positive for fans of those in black and white. Keep it up, and secure Rondon permanently in the summer, and there could be some real positive things brewing on Tyneside.