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Newcastle: Rafa Benitez struck gold on Miguel Almiron

Newcastle United have enjoyed a simply stunning start to the Premier League campaign thus far, with Eddie Howe’s side having been the top-flight’s surprise package after moving firmly into contention for a Champions League qualification spot with just one defeat from their opening 15 games.

The major story in that relentless run of form has been the displays of emerging talisman, Miguel Almiron, with the Paraguayan international having arguably been the standout player for the Magpies of late.

The St James’ Park outfit are finally starting to truly reap the rewards of their initial £20m investment in the playmaker back in January 2019, with the former Atlanta United ace having been something of a slow-burn up to now.

Having been signed by former boss Rafa Benitez to help provide a great creative spark to the northeast side – after providing 43 goals and assists in just 70 games for the MLS outfit – the diminutive speedster initially took time to make his mark in English football, having perhaps not initially warranted his then club-record price tag.

In fact, it took almost a year for the 48-cap ace to eventually get off the mark in the black-and-white stripes, eventually ending that lengthy goal drought in a win over Crystal Palace in December 2019.

The 5 foot 9 gem would go on to score just nine league goals prior to the start of this season, having struggled to truly deliver during Steve Bruce’s tenure, with such woes having even seen the player linked with an exit from the club over the summer.

Despite such reports that current boss Eddie Howe was potentially open to selling the one-time Lanus man in the recent window, Almiron has since gone on to prove the doubters wrong with a sensational run of form, having scored eight goals in just 15 league appearances so far this season.

That tally has included a stunning volley in the 4-1 thrashing of Fulham at Craven Cottage, with such a strike an indication of the player’s confidence at present, having since even been awarded the Premier League’s Player of the Month award for October.

The in-form “machine” – as described by Henry Winter – has been “moving like [Lionel] Messi” so far this term, according to journalist Daniel Koranteng, with the £42k-per-week gem something of an undroppable figure for Howe and co.

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Such has been the forward’s rise of late, The Chronicle’s Lee Ryder has even suggested that he could now be worth as much as £100m, with that figure five times more than what the club originally paid for him.

Ryder stated: “Even if you go back to the summer, I think Newcastle were looking at, possibly, players in his position. Well, you wouldn’t swap him now for anybody in the Premier League, at any price. Save your money, because you’ve already got a £100m player on your hands at the moment, in my opinion.”

In truth, despite the early teething problems that Almiron endured at Newcastle, Benitez now looks to have struck gold with his decision to sign the club’s new hero.