Steve Bruce has on numerous occasions spoken about what the best position is for Miguel Almiron. When Bruce first arrived at Newcastle, he used Miguel behind Joelinton as a second striker in a 3-5-2.
After a toothless Norwich performance saw Joelinton far too isolated, Steve adopted a 5-4-1 against Tottenham. He moved the left-footed Almiron to the right-wing, a position he had only played once before at Atlanta United.
At his previous club, Almiron was primarily an attacking midfielder but sometimes played on the left. Last season, Rafa Benitez deployed the Paraguayan almost exclusively on the left.
On international duty, Miguel is generally played as an attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1. So Miguel is a very versatile player, but it begs the question of what his best position is.
In the Northern Echo a few weeks ago, Bruce asked himself that very question:
“He became a free spirit at Atlanta as a No 10, an attacking midfielder,” said Bruce. “That’s the thing you label him and he’s one of them where, ‘what is his best position?’ Because if you are off the striker then you have to be getting 10-12 goals a season.”
“Is he a wide player? Is he a No 10? Is he a midfielder? I think that’s the one. I thought he was excellent against Spurs and the other day if he had scored. I think it’s just a matter of time. He’ll be OK. As a footballer, he’s a good player.”
In the 2017-18 season in Atlanta, Miguel scored 13 goals, and all but one were as an attacking midfielder. While the MLS is far from the level of the Premier League, Miguel did get the goals playing centrally.
Late last week before the Leicester City match, Steve Bruce again addressed Almiron’s position situation. However Bruce seemed to indicate he had it all figured out this time:
“Not an out and out centre-forward or a natural number ten either, he is an old-fashioned inside forward and so we have got to try and get the best out of him.”
We saw Matt Ritchie as that type inside forward/inverted winger who would cut in from the right and fashion chances for himself with his stronger left foot. Apparently, that is where Steve Bruce thinks he can get the best out of the 25-year-old.
The inside forward comment has been met with some consternation from a journalist who covers Atlanta United in the MLS.
Felipe Cardenas is a staff writer for The Athletic who is familiar with Almiron from his time in Atlanta. He was asked about Steve Bruce’s comments in the Chronicle, and this is what he had to say:
“What is an old-fashioned inside forward? If you ask 10 people, you’ll probably get 10 different answers so that doesn’t help a player like Miguel Almiron at all. His best position is playing central; playing in a free role, centrally in between lines.
“Bruce’s comments – a lot of Atlanta fans are chiming in saying he ‘obviously never saw him play’ and that he can play in a central position. The reason he was so good centrally was because of two factors, firstly the style of play at Atlanta, playing from the back, keeping the ball on the ground and inviting pressure.
“They were open, ‘come and attack us, because if we break you, we have a player like Almiron who is just going to run right at you’. His best attribute is that he is quick, his ability to take a touch and turn off the defender and just go forward – that’s really difficult to do on the flank.
“If you’re playing as a wing player, you rarely have that opportunity to turn on somebody and to go – I think that is probably one of the struggles he is having. Here in Atlanta he was a No 10 – is he a classic one? No, and that’s because of his versatility.
“He has the ability to play all over the midfield but he’s a creator and a playmaker – his speed continues to be his strongest asset. In order to take advantage of that he needs to be in a position where he can isolate a defender.”
We don’t necessarily think that Almiron is being played out of position. Though right-wing may not be his best position, he still has the attributes to be a threat. The issue with Miguel is that he is not putting away his chances.
Regardless of where starts, he doesn’t keep his wits about him in front of goal. We just hope that once he gets that first one out of the way, he will start to bang them in a bit more consistently. He doesn’t strike us as a player who is going to get you ten goals a season in this league. Though he should be producing a lot more than he has so far in the final third.
This article was originally posted here