First things first, Almiron’s first meaningful minutes for Newcastle will be his first serious match action since the MLS Cup Final on Dec. 9. That means there will be some rust on the wiry playmaker who produced 13 goals and 13 assists for the Five Stripes in 2018.
Next: It’s likely that Rafa Benitez views Almiron as that playmaking No. 10 he’s needed, though there’s no guarantee his closest comparison on the Magpies — Ayoze Perez — won’t be a bit more suited to the job while Almiron gets used to the league.
Speaking of which, Perez is a terrific base line for which to judge Almiron. That won’t happen since Perez was a plucked gem from Tenerife while Almiron cost a club record, but follow me here.
The 25-year-old Perez is only a half-year older than Almiron, but arrived Tyneside at the age of 21. Perez also has Almiron by a half-inch.
Perez arrived at Newcastle having torn apart a lesser league, La Liga2, to the tune of 16 goals and 7 assists. He did not come on like a flash, either, with his first six appearances off the bench.
He scored goals in his next three en route to five by New Year’s Day and seven on the Premier League season, where he was deployed by Alan Pardew as an undersized center striker in two-thirds of his matches.
That Newcastle team, as hard as this is to believe, was nearly as offensively wretched as this season’s iteration. Perez was the second-leading goal scorer, behind Papiss Cisse and ahead of a wayward crowd of Moussa Sissoko and Jack Colback (Yes, they were relegated).
Almiron is much more seasoned than Perez, and the Paraguayan’s lesser league of MLS is a lot more physical than La Liga2. Almiron has also been the focal point of a team’s creative center, and will not be thrown off by the responsibility and expectations at a new club. Remember, he cost an MLS expansion team about $8 million.
Benitez may cater to Almiron in a free-ranging role to blood him on the Premier League, ousting Christian Atsu from the lineup instead of Perez at the No. 10.
What’s reasonable, like really reasonable? We’d say a goal — perhaps two given set piece chances — to go with 3-4 assists over his final 14 matches would qualify as a statistical success, but just looking the part and encouraging his owner to back Benitez with similar talent over the summer will be almost as important.
Once a non-event, the January transfer window has become busier and busier as the teams of the Premier League deem improving their lot for the second half of the season almost as important as the first.
6:21 p.m. ET — Yannick Bolasie is leaving Everton on loan to Anderlecht for the rest of the season after cutting a loan with Aston Villa short.
6 p.m. ET — The window is closed, but that just means deal sheets had to be submitted to the Premier League. Stay tuned for further announcements.
5:56 p.m. ET — Celtic have pushed another deal over the line in its bid to hold off Rangers and Aberdeen and win another Scottish Premiership title.
Jeremy Toljan will join the Bhoys from Borussia Dortmund on loan, having struggled to get playing time on the Bundesliga leaders.
OFFICIAL: Jeremy Toljan has joined Celtic from Borussia Dortmund for the rest of the season. Celtic were in need of a right-back and he’s finding it hard to get into Dortmund’s XI due to their brilliant form in the Bundesliga. Quick and agile, he’ll do well there. #BVB#CelticFCpic.twitter.com/4WJdLdW6fX
In case there was any doubt… Toronto plan to go big to replace Giovinco and Vazquez. Told club is aiming to sign a younger attacker as a DP in next couple weeks. If signed, the fee will likely be among the highest in MLS history. Targeting 1-2 TAM signings this window, as well.
4:22 p.m. ET — Everton’s potential sale of Idrissa Gana Gueye of Paris Saint-Germain has been quiet, but Sky Sports has broken into their coverage to say that Gana is now the subject of a $34 million bid.
The Toffees still do not plan on selling the industrious center midfielder, but he’s also 29 years old and the Toffees are neither in danger of being relegated nor finding their footing as a European club.
4:07 p.m. ET — Michy Batshuayi is one of the topics of conversation, as the Belgian striker looks to find regular playing time away from Chelsea.
Batshuayi, 25, tore up the Bundesliga on loan at Borussia Dortmund last season, but could not find the back of the goal often in a half-season at Valencia.
He’s been linked with moves to Real Betis, West Ham United, and — most unlikely — Spurs, but his wages are reportedly holding up the deal. Speaking on Sky Sports’ transfer deadline show, Sam Allardyce unsurprisingly said West Ham would be the best place for him.
3:49 p.m. ET — Some Americans in Scotland (and America) news.
It looks like MAC Hermann Trophy winner Andrew Gutman was not able to get the proper papers to activate his time at Celtic, as the Indiana University left back and USMNT hopeful has been sent on loan to Nashville SC.
Also signing leaving Celtic on loan is NC State’s Manny Perez, who is off on loan to North Carolina FC.