Miguel Almiron opens up about his 'humble' start and what his move to Newcastle United REALLY means to him
Miguel Almiron says he sold on a move to Newcastle United as soon as he heard Rafa Benitez wanted to take him to St James’s Park.
Almiron joined the club from Atlanta United last week in a deal which could cost up to £21million.
And the midfielder could make his debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers on at Molineux Monday night.
Almiron – who hasn’t played since the MLS Cup final on December 8 – first learnt of Newcastle’s interest in him in late November.
The 24-year-old spoke to former United midfielder and Paraguayan countryman Diego Gavilan, signed by the late Sir Bobby Robson 19 years ago.
“I took it lightly – I didn’t want to get caught up in it,” said Almiron.
“I spoke to Diego Gavilan. We wrote to each other, and he indicated it is an opportunity you shouldn’t turn down and you should go for it.”
When Newcastle firmed up their interest in last month’s transfer window, Almiron’s mind was made up before he spoke to his family, who have joined him on Tyneside.
“Of course, I spoke with them, but my mind was already made up at that stage once I knew Newcastle were interested in me,” said Almiron.
“I spoke to my team-mates. My advisors and my agent they came over here in advance, had a look at the city and sent back good reports.
“Those reports have been proved true, as I’ve had a warm welcome since I arrived here.
“I think that definitely I’m looking forward to the experience of settling in here.
“My partner and my parents will come over to see me. The bits that I have seen of the city I’ve liked a lot, and
“I’m sure I’ll like it even more when I see more of it.
“I’m sure my family will like it too.”
Almiron has long dreamed about playing in Europe.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to come across in play and Europe and in the Premier League,” he sai.
“I’ve had that in mind since the early days of my career.
“I feel I’m representing my country here – I’m proud of that – and I hope to give a good account of myself and of my country.”
Almiron – who had been Benitez’s top January target – signed a life-changing five-and-a-half year contract at United.
However, the Paraguay international comes from humble beginnings in Asuncion.
“I played around my district, my barrio if you like, and at the age of six I went to my first club and went through the ranks there,” said Almiron.
“Then came Cerro Porteno, and the same there through the ranks from the age of 14.
“We were from a humble background. My parents worked really hard to always make sure we had food on the table we never lacked a meal at the end of the day.
“They helped my in my early career, took me to games and training. They were a big help to me.
“Now, because I’ve done OK, they’ve been able to retire. Dad was a security guard and my mum worked in a supermarket.”
When Almiron joined the club, a clip from 2005 film “Goal!” depicting ficticiousSouth American footballer Santiago Munez’s arrival on Tyneside went viral on social media.
“I know the film – I’ve seen it,” said Almiron.
“I try not to get carried away with comparisons like that, or go too crazy with what people write on social media.
“It’s about trying to do my best. “
A YouTube compilation of clips of Almiron was also widely shared online after he joined.
Almiron joked: “You’ll only see if that was true when I play!”
For the moment, Almiron – who had started pre-season training with Atlanta last month – is focused on settling into the club.
“What I’ve been trying to do is settle in as quickly as possible,” said Almiron, who has been earmarked as a No 10 by manager Benitez.
“I had to get the formalities and my visa sorted, so I only got to train a little bit at first.
“But now I’ve trained with the full squad, so it’s about integrating and settling in as quickly as possible.
“I feel good physically. I’m in good shape.
“Our pre-season had started with Atlanta, so I got some physical stuff done then, so I’m good.”
Almiron, the first player to be formally unveiled in St James’s Park’s media room since Georginio Wijnaldum in 2015, is not concerned by his price tag.
The signing broke the record set by the £16million acquisition of Michael Owen from Real Madrid in 2005.
“First and foremost, I see it as an honour,” said Almiron.
“It’s something that I try not to pay too much attention to. It’s something that it secondary when it’s compared to me helping the team.
“I want to bring something to the group and help them. The main aim is settling in and getting to know my team-mates.
“I try not to think about the pressure or pay attention to it.
“As players of this club, Newcastle United, which has so much history, and that is pressure in itself in terms of wanting to do well.
“We know what the fans demand of us, but it doesn’t concern me overly. I’m just going to focus on playing.”
Almiron has joined a club which is just two points above the relegation zone with 13 games left to play.
“It’s not something we’re think about at the minute – it’s about focusing on the positives,” said Almiron.
“We’re focused together, and that will help me to bring what I can to the party.”
Almiron is confident he will be ready to face Wolves – if selected.
“I feel more settled,” said Almiron.
“I’m very, very happy I can train daily. I’ve put in some decent work already on the training ground, which is something I needed.
“Physically, I feel good and it’s good to focus, working hard and learning the tactics. It’s down to the manager whether I will be ready for Monday, but certainly I feel ready and I’m keen to take part.”
Beyond that, Almiron is looking forward to making his first appearance at St James’s Park.
“I think it’ll be absolutely great to play here, the feeling will be magnificent,” said Alrmion.
“I’m really grateful for the way I’ve been welcomed already.
“I’ve felt the support, kindness and good feelings already. I felt they give that to individuals and the whole teams as well.
“I really can’t wait until I can play for the side here at home as a player.”
Benitez is also keen to see him make an early impact.
“We need Almiron right now, but we have not signed him just for this month,” said Benitez.
“He has the desire, ambition and conditions to do well. He can play in different positions – as a No 10 or a winger.
“Almiron has pace and stamina and is a worker.”