Miguel Almiron’s Newcastle United release clause suddenly doesn’t look so silly
Miguel Almiron’s Newcastle United release clause has been the subject of ridicule in the past – yet it’s the Paraguayan who is the one laughing now.
Just 13 games into the new Premier League season, Almiron has already notched his best league goal tally for Newcastle after finding the net six times in as many games in October.
At the end of the 2021-22 campaign in which Almiron was a rotational player with just one goal to his name, his agent, Daniel Campos, claimed that he had a £58million release clause in his Newcastle contract. Many supporters scoffed at the price with a perception that the club would be lucky to get even half of that figure.
Heading into the summer transfer window, Almiron was arguably viewed as one of Newcastle’s most ‘sellable’ assets from an outsider's perspective. He wasn’t a guaranteed starter in Eddie Howe's side and they could still get a reasonable transfer fee for the player as they eyed reinforcements out wide.
But an out-and-out winger never arrived as Almiron stepped up. Newcastle were heavily linked with Bayer Leverkusen winger Moussa Diaby but were put off by the £60million asking price for the Frenchman.
During pre-season, both head coach Howe and Kieran Trippier spoke and worked with Almiron a lot to try and bring out the best in him. And it’s fair to say the Paraguayan has rarely looked back since.
While a lot has been made about the money spent by Newcastle under new ownership, there is an ever-increasing list of players at the club prior to the takeover who have been given a new lease of life under Howe.
Almiron finished pre-season as Newcastle's top scorer with six goals to his name, though the big question was whether he could continue his scoring form in the Premier League?
Initially, it was a slow start with just one goal in his opening seven games before a trip to Craven Cottage started to turn heads. A brace against Fulham including a goal of the season contender saw Almiron get the plaudits before he scored his fourth of the season against Brentford a week later.
Match-winning strikes against Everton and Tottenham Hotspur followed before he curled in his sixth goal of the month in stunning fashion to make it 4-0 against Aston Villa on Saturday.
A player who was seen as a potential outgoing at the end of last season is currently one of the club’s most valuable assets. ‘Played like Almiron’ was deemed an insult when an inebriated Jack Grealish slurred the term back in May – the Newcastle No. 24 has let his football do the talking instead of responding with words.
And five months on, ‘played like Almiron’ can be considered a huge compliment. The Paraguayan has scored more Premier League goals in October than Grealish has managed in his entire Manchester City career since signing for the club for £100million last summer.
There has never been any doubting Almiron’s energy or work-rate since he joined Newcastle in 2019, but a lack of end product in the final third has always been a sticking point. Some reporters have previously joked that you could write Almiron’s player rating comment before the match had even started: “He put in a good shift, just lacked end product.”
There was a predictability about Almiron. You knew he’d run all day, chase anything and never use his right foot. But there was always something to admire, he’s 28 but still manages to play with the jovial freedom of a child, grinning all the way.
That missing piece to his game has been found this season and he is now heading into the World Cup break as not just Newcastle’s but the Premier League’s in-form player. Almiron will win the Premier League's Player of the Month award for October and has a good chance of picking up another goal of the month award too given the quality and quantity of his strikes.
All six of his goals in October have been with his heavily favoured left-foot, but he’s still managed to pose a threat both cutting inside and charging down the line. Bruno Guimaraes’ ability to clip balls over the top of the opposition defence make Almiron a real threat running in behind as well.
As cliched as it sounds, Almiron has been like a new signing for Newcastle this season. Had the club shelled out £60million for Diaby – coincidentally around the same amount as Almiron’s release clause – and he contributed in the same way Almiron has so far this season, it would be seen as money well spent.
Almiron's explosive form is sure to alert some top clubs looking to bolster their attacking options in January. But he is expected to remain on Tyneside and continue his fine progress under Howe.
And the player’s notoriously vocal agent previously stated that he doesn’t expect to see Almiron leave anytime soon.
“He is at the best club in the world. He is happy with prominence; I don’t see any possibility of change now,” Campos told Versus Radio on Universo 970 [translated from Spanish].
“They are going to change everything, structure, youth, women’s soccer, everything is going to change.”
Almiron’s current contract, which includes the release clause, expires in June 2024. He’ll be 30 by then, but a new deal could soon be on the table as Newcastle consider an improved deal.
While Almiron’s form could be a flash in the pan as it will be incredibly difficult for him to maintain these levels for the rest of the season, all of a sudden, that £58million release clause doesn’t seem quite so silly after all.