Almiron may have played 20 times for the Magpies and been at St James Park since January, but he is yet to register an assist or even score a goal despite being one of the club’s most attack-minded players.
The playmaker has managed to impress in other ways, see his work ethic that got Jermaine Jenas gushing on BBC Radio 5 Live during the win over Tottenham, but at the end of the day, it’s his job to score or assist and he’s failing to do that.
West Ham enforcer Balbuena, who is Almiron’s international teammate, was asked about his fellow Paraguayan ahead of the Hammers’ clash with the Magpies and his remarks were very interesting.
He insisted that the 25-year-old was a talented player, but implied the playmaker was potentially struggling because of Steve Bruce playing him out of position and because there is a big difference between the MLS, where Almiron previously played, and the Premier League.
“Now, he is playing in a different position and the Premier League is a big difference from the MLS, but he is a very good player, a very technical player and a very quick player, so hopefully he will do well,” said Balbuena, as quoted by West Ham’s official website.
“I think his manager wants him to play on the wing but for me, I think he would be able to show more if he is playing in the centre, in the No10 position.”
Now many Newcastle fans will surely hope Balbuena is only 50% right with his remarks.
If Almiron is struggling due to Bruce playing him in the wrong position, then that’s easily fixed.
Once the Newcastle boss opts to move him into a more central position, which he will no doubt try if he continues not to deliver, then Almiron could finally excel and meet the expectations there were in place for him when he arrived.
Considering he has completed 0.9 dribbles and 1.4 shots per game across 10 league outings this season, if a position switch sees him add end product to his game, then he’ll be lethal and a valuable player for the team who no one will question. (Source: WhoScored)
However, if Balbuena is right to suggest that Almiron is still suffering due to the MLS being very different to the Premier League, there’s no guarantee he’ll ever come good in terms of goals and assists.
He may just not be suited to the Premier League, so isn’t able to excel in the division like he did in American’s top-flight.
Almiron scored 22 goals, while assisting 21, in 70 appearances for Atlanta United before arriving at St James Park, and even more impressively made the MLS team of the year in his last two seasons at the club.
The attacking midfielder also was one of only six players to get double figures for both goals and assist in the MLS in 2018, as per BBC Sport, so it’s not like he’s never shown he hasn’t got end product.
While time will only see Almiron become more settled in the Premier League, some players never excel in England and are suited to other divisions better, and Newcastle will just have to hope that isn’t the case here.