Miguel Almiron's impressive pre-season and the big selection dilemma now facing Eddie Howe
The Paraguayan entered the off-season, in the eyes of many outside the club at least, as a potential casualty of Newcastle’s transfer policy.
While resources isn’t too much of an issue at the club, any money they can raise through player sales will help them in their battle against Financial Fair Play restrictions.
Players like Dwight Gayle and Freddie Woodman have been moved on this summer, but Newcastle haven’t received a fee for their services whilst Isaac Hayden, Ciaran Clark and Jeff Hendrick have all been shipped out on a temporary basis.
Almiron was seen as one of the few players that Newcastle could sell and receive a decent chunk of money for, although they likely wouldn’t make profit on the £20million they paid for his services in 2018.
And if fans are honest with themselves, had Almiron departed this summer - who really could have said Newcastle would miss him?
14 goals and five assists in 123 appearances for the club isn’t a great return for someone who has played predominantly on the wing or even as a second-striker.
He’s rightly been praised for his work ethic and tireless running on the pitch, but unfortunately the numbers just don’t equate to a man Newcastle need to desperately keep hold of as they aim to progress up the table.
With no additions just yet, the right-wing position looks up for grabs with Ryan Fraser, Jacob Murphy and Almiron all vying for that starting spot.
Under Eddie Howe, Fraser has been favoured for that spot, however, Almiron’s performances and the numbers he is posting in pre-season will have given the head coach a very big headache ahead of the Nottingham Forest clash.
Six goals and two assists is a great return from the Paraguayan who is, albeit in pre-season games, showing a ruthless side to his game that hasn’t been visible too often whilst at the club.
His two goals in the defeat to Benfica on Tuesday particularly good and highlighted a potential flourishing partnership between himself and Kieran Trippier.
For the first, Almiron sprayed a wonderful pass out to Trippier whose delicious ball back into the box found the Paraguayan spare who tucked home a good effort.
His second, again provided by Trippier, was reminiscent of his strike against Crystal Palace at the end of last season.
Almiron’s good form has come on the back of a solid end to the season and is a great boost for the team ahead of the new one.
The clash with Nottingham Forest is a great chance for Newcastle to get their season off to the perfect start and while supporters may be slightly concerned at the lack of signings the club have made in forward areas, if Almiron can continue this stunning form, then he almost acts as a new signing.
Almiron certainly isn’t a guaranteed fix for Newcastle based solely on his performances in pre-season, however, his re-emergence should give his head coach a massive selection headache when the clash with Steve Cooper’s side rolls around.