Miguel Angel Almirón Rejala was the next big thing at Atlanta United in the MLS. With a goalscoring record of better than one in three he was signed by Rafa Benitez at the end of the January 2019 transfer window for an alleged club record transfer fee. Big things were expected of the player who would light up anywhere he goes. With his huge eyebrows, massive smile and more importantly, pace to burn and dancing feet, big things were expected from Miggy in the black and white shirt of Newcastle United. Has this talent materialised into results on the pitch though?

There is a real divide in my pals chat on whether we should keep the faith in Almiron or bolster the transfer coffers by selling him. If rumour be true, his agent has been touting him around Spain, and in particular to the current La Liga champions, Atletico Madrid for a fee in the region of £30m, The big question is though, would you keep or sell?

When Almiron finally landed on the banks of the Tyne, he was clearly a raw talent. He’s quicker than any forward I can remember since the halcyon days of Wayne Fereday, and with considerably more talent at his disposal.

I think it’s fair to say that in the early days, and under the tutelage of Rafa, we had a real player in our ranks. Talented, quick, skilful yet raw and with lots to learn, he was a player who the majority of fans were excited to be watching at our club. It’s clear there’s a seismic difference between the MLS and the Premier League. It took him 25 games and 40 shots at goal before he broke his duck at home to Palace in December 2019 When that strike hit the back of the net, not only did the roof metaphorically come off SJP, but a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders.  He subsequently bagged a further 7 goals in all competitions to end the season on a high. A few of us were at Wolves in the January of 2020 to see his strike and my old pal Gids legendary “Miggy dance” was born.

What’s stunted Almiron’s development in the subsequent 2 years? Has he regressed under our esteemed bacon muncher? Did Rafa’s “arm around the shoulder” give him unbridled confidence? So many questions remain unanswered.

Regular watchers of the Paraguayan will know that he has the quality to achieve much more in the black and white. However, he has been a victim of his own versatility and enthusiasm. Bruce clearly rates Almiron, but he knows that the 27-year-old will be useful in a variety of roles. Others in the attack need to play in a certain position and that is Almiron’s detriment. I think that since Saint-Maximin joined us, he’s taken Almiron’s best position, and he’s suffered because of this.

It’s obvious that Bruce is a big fan. As a “manager” who cedes possession in most games, Almiron offers a pacey outlet on the break. What I find incredibly frustrating though is how deep he’s having to come to pick up the ball, put his head down and run into cul-de-sacs. Without any quality in the middle of the park and when we are Wilson-less you can see him suffering.

In the up-coming season we need to see more of our enigmatic Paraguayan. We need more goals; we need more assists, and we need to play him in a position that will get the best out of him.

Returning to my original question…Sell or keep? Personally, I believe we keep him. Others may disagree. I’ll leave that to you to make your own minds up.

How do you solve a problem like Miguel Almiron? That’s the million-dollar question. Answers on a postcard to Mr Steven Roger Bruce, c/o SJP, Barrack Road.

@peekeekay – Paul Karter