Arsenal were heavily linked with a move for Miguel Almiron before the winger sealed his move to Newcastle United it seems the club tried to get him on loan.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23: Miguel Almiron of Newcastle in action during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town at St. James Park on February 23, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Miguel Almiron of Newcastle in action during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Huddersfield Town at St. James Park on February 23, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

At one stage it was reported that Arsenal had agreed a deal to sign Almiron on a permanent deal however that story vanished as quickly as it surfaced.

That didn’t stop Arsenal’s name being linked with a move and now his agent has claimed Arsenal tried to get him on loan.

When his deal with Newcastle was finally agreed, I took a more in-depth look at how he ended up at St. James’ Park instead of the Emirates….

Miguel Almiron is set to become a Newcastle United player but at the tail end of 2018 it was reported that he had agreed to join Arsenal, so what happened?

miguel almiron
ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 08: Miguel Almiron #10 of Atlanta United celebrates their 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers during the 2018 MLS Cup between Atlanta United and the Portland Timbers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Miguel Almiron will become a Newcastle United player today for a fee of around £21m but it seems as if Arsenal had a real interest in the attacking midfielder, at least for a while.

READ MORE: Miguel Almiron scout report – An MLS star in waiting

Arsenal were first linked with a move for the Paraguay international back in 2016 when his agent admitted the club had made an approach for the player that ‘didn’t go any further’. At that time, it was expected a fee of around €10m would be enough to seal a deal. Those comments came two days after it was reported Arsenal had agreed a €9.4m deal for him.

Nothing came of that and Almiron headed to the States to sign for Atlanta United and it all went quiet on the Arsenal front until October 2018.

A quote emerged at the start of that month that was reportedly from Atlanta’s president, Darren Eales, that claimed a deal was done with Arsenal that would see the player move in January for £11.5m but it didn’t take long for these quotes to be dismissed as fake news.

Newcastle then entered the equation but right up until December, Arsenal were still said to be holding an interest even though the MLS wanted a big fee and Arsenal had no money.

Arsenal’s interest in Almiron is lengthy and genuine but it seems as if money could be the reason they bowed out of any deal.

Atlanta were adamant they wanted a decent fee for the player, and while they were hoping to get in excess of £30m for him, they’ve settled for £21m which still represents a profit of £14.25m.

If you’d like to know more about Almiron, read on for a profile we got Christopher Weeks, who lives Stateside, to put together when we were first linked.

It has been updated, in parts, for this season but was written before his move to Newcastle.

Miguel Almirón was linked with a move to Arsenal last year, and the rumours have started circling again.

Lanus' midfielder Miguel Almiron celebrates after scoring the team's second goal against San Lorenzo during an Argentina First Divison football final match at the Momnumental stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on May 29, 2016. / AFP / ALEJANDRO PAGNI (Photo credit should read ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP/Getty Images)
Lanus’ midfielder Miguel Almiron celebrates after scoring the team’s second goal against San Lorenzo during an Argentina First Divison football final match at the Momnumental stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on May 29, 2016. / AFP / ALEJANDRO PAGNI (Photo credit should read ALEJANDRO PAGNI/AFP/Getty Images)

Last January, he moved from Lanus in Argentina to Atlanta United in MLS and has taken another step forward as a player. His team have burst onto the scene, with massive crowds and sit 3rd in their conference in their first season.

But what makes the 23-year-old Paraguayan from relatively unknown clubs (at least to most European sides) so special, and would he be a quality signing for Arsenal?

Playing style

Almirón has flourished since moving to Atlanta and playing in former Argentina and Barcelona manager Tata Martino’s system.

Almirón has nine goals and eight assists for Atlanta this season in 29 appearances.

He has formed a deadly partnership with striker Josef Martinez, a pacey forward with very intelligent movement.

Playing as a central playmaker in a 4-3-3, Almirón has been given freedom to roam the field. He pops ups everywhere in the final third, and excels at playing the final pass to slice through a packed in defence.

Where Atlanta have been most deadly though, is on the counter attack.

Almirón has combined with lightning-quick forwards Tito Villalba and Martinez all season, ravaging all of MLS with efficient and quick counters.

Here is an assist that is a bit of both:

The passion and work rate are both there. He would bring a spark to an Arsenal team that have been accused (rightly or wrongly) of appearing careless in recent seasons.

Over the last year, Arsenal have sometimes had two separate squads: players they used when they knew opposition would be packed in, and players they utilised when the match would be more of a back-and-forth affair.

Miguel Almirón is a deadly playmaker both on the counter and against packed defences, and would certainly be an asset to Arsenal because of his….

Goals, goals, goals!

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 05: Midfielder Miguel Almiron #10 of Atlanta United dribbles during the game against the New York Red Bulls at Bobby Dodd Stadium on March 5, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – MARCH 05: Midfielder Miguel Almiron #10 of Atlanta United dribbles during the game against the New York Red Bulls at Bobby Dodd Stadium on March 5, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

Early in the season, Almirón appeared to have the same problem many Arsenal attacking midfielders have had in the past: passing it when there was a clear opportunity to score themselves.

Martino urged him to shoot, and shoot he did.

Here is a screamer he scored in the snow in Minnesota:

https://twitter.com/JogaBonitoUSA/status/841052714884829184

Here is another strong strike from earlier this season:

What team couldn’t use goals like that?

For an Arsenal team that has sometimes struggled to find goals from players not named Alexis Sanchez, Almirón would surely be a useful player.

So who does he compare to?

Drawing Comparisons

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal on the bench during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Arsenal FC at St Mary's Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 16: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal on the bench during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Arsenal FC at St Mary’s Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

An easy comparison in the current squad would be Mesut Özil.

His ability to freely roam about the pitch, attacking the defence from wherever he can find a weakness is what sticks out.

Their unique vision and ability to think three steps ahead of the rest make them excellent attacking midfielders.

With the German possibly (and maybe likely) on his way out the door, Almirón would directly replace what Arsenal are losing.

He is not quite on the level of Özil, but at only 23 years of age, it is not crazy to suggest that he will be, and possibly quite soon.

But does he have any downsides?

Cons

Miguel Almiron
ATLANTA, GA – MARCH 05: Midfielder Miguel Almiron #10 of Atlanta United dribbles during the game against the New York Red Bulls at Bobby Dodd Stadium on March 5, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

Almirón does come with a few concerns, however.

The first knock against him is the level of competition he has faced. Argentina does not have the strongest league. And while MLS has improved drastically over the last five years, it is not exactly the Champions League. But he has played with Paraguay against the big guns of CONMEBOL and not looked out of his depth whatsoever.

Would he really be an Arsenal target without some injury concerns?

This season, he pulled a hamstring and missed several games, during which Atlanta went 1-1-1; a major cool-down from their scorching hot form before the injury.

A hamstring pull is worrying, but at least it is not Jack Wilshere’s ankles or Abou Diaby’s knees.

Hopefully, this is a one-off and not a chronic issue.

Likelihood of a move to North London

Chile's Marcelo Diaz (L) and Paraguay's Miguel Almiron vie for the ball during their 2018 World Cup qualifier football match, in Santiago, on August 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Claudio Reyes
Chile’s Marcelo Diaz (L) and Paraguay’s Miguel Almiron vie for the ball during their 2018 World Cup qualifier football match, in Santiago, on August 31, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Claudio Reyes

Almirón is clearly a player that would fit in well at Arsenal, but would the player actually want to come?

No player in their right mind would turn down a move from a top 10 club in the world, but it would have to come with the right situation.

Almirón is not going to play in MLS forever. In his first season, he is perhaps the best player in the league.

A European move in the near future is certainly on the cards. But the Paraguayan can probably wait until the right situation develops.

He is being called in and used regularly with Paraguay, he is the number 10 for a world class manager, playing in front of 50,000-70,000 fans every week. And, to top it off, he makes around 35k pounds/week (in US Dollars)—Arsenal can easily pay more, but it is not like he is dying to get a payday.

The club/league (all MLS clubs are centrally owned) will certainly not want to sell unless a high asking price is met. Plus, the Atlanta United team president is Darren Eales, former Director of Football Administration at Spurs.

He is still strongly linked with them as well, as Atlanta took one of their youngsters on loan for the season. He will likely be averse to selling to Arsenal, further driving up Almirón’s asking price.

If Özil agrees to move somewhere else in January, a move for Almirón could materialise. That way, he is much more likely to get immediate playing time, and Atlanta would not have to sell their best player mid-season (MLS runs March-October).

He would be a terrific like-for-like replacement for the German playmaker, if Arsenal can make it happen.

Stats courtesy of FotMob and WhoScored

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