BACKGROUND

At 14 years old, Miguel Almirón had a trial with Nacional and was told he was too small for football. This didn’t stop Almirón from chasing his dream of becoming a professional footballer. He went to Cerro Porteno and spent 5 years in the youth system honing his skills.

Miguel Almirón has played in the top-flight division of both Paraguay and Argentina, but last summer, he decided to take his talents to new MLS expansion side Atlanta United. Such is Almiron’s talent that Arsenal attempted to sign the Paraguayan international in 2016. While the deal did not work out in the end, don’t be surprised to see him playing for a top European club in the future.

Almirón made his professional debut on March 10th, 2013 for Paraguayan side Cerro Porteno. He then enjoyed a move to Lanus in Argentina before moving to Atlanta United.

SCOUTING REPORT

Miguel Almirón is a versatile player who can play on either wing, or even behind the striker as a team’s central playmaker. For his new club, Atlanta United, he has been playing behind the center forward, which allows him to see more of the ball and create for his teammates. Almirón gets the crowd out of their seats every time the ball is at his feet, capable of dictating play in the final third. While his primary function is to create for his teammates, he is capable of scoring goals as well. The Paraguayan proved this to be true as he scored two beautiful goals vs Minnesota United in his second game with Atlanta. Almirón also went on to add an assist in Minnesota as well, displaying his fine playmaking ability.

All this being said, Almirón’s primary strength is his dribbling. Almiron is the type of player you would want to lead your counterattacks. Picking the ball up in his own half, Almiron tends to up the length of the pitch and release it to a a teammate or take the shot on himself. This works perfect in Tata Martino’s Atlanta United side as the brand-new side play a fast-paced style. Atlanta’s 4-2-3-1 formation allows Almirón more of a free role in the midfield, ideal for a player of his abilities. Almirón appears to be playing next to Josef Martinez at times in attack, but will also drop a little deeper, allowing him space in midfield to display his fine dribbling. Due to his ability to play on the wing, he tends to drift out wide at times as well, usually on the left side. Against Minnesota, Almirón tried to receive between the lines of midfield and defense. Finding the gaps allowed for the 23-year-old to pick the ball up in space, and turn and face the opposition defense. This is very dangerous for any backline in MLS, as Almirón is one of the deadliest players in counterattacking situations. Almiron enjoys having the ball at his feet and will do whatever it takes to make sure that is the case as much as possible. This is evident as he sits seventh in balls recovered this season, with 20. This is made possible by Atlanta’s young attackers pressing high and forcing the opposition to turn the ball over. While Atlanta enjoy having possession, they do not take care of the ball well enough. Currently sitting near the bottom of MLS with 69% passing accuracy, this is where Almirón’s dribbling comes into play. While picking the ball up in the midfield and beating 2 or 3 men does not improve the teams passing accuracy, it does create a lot of opportunities for his teammates. Atlanta currently sits top of MLS in goals scored and shots on target, and Almirón has played a big part in allowing his club to lead the league in these statistics. Almirón’s endless running allows for his team to pick the ball off in great areas and create chances with just 2 or 3 quick passes. All of these components to Almirón’s game make him one of the scariest players in the league, and can even make him become one of the deadliest players in Europe.

Despite Miguel already proving his abilities, there is still a lot that remains to be seen, as the 23-year-old is still finding his feet in the league. Almirón is fully capable of taking this league by storm and leading Atlanta United into a historic debut season in MLS. While he may already have options in Europe, he should stay in Atlanta to fully develop before making his inevitable move to a top European side. Atlantans hope the Paraguayan will stay with the expansion side for the rest of his career, but they also know that will likely not be the case. Entering MLS as “the Arsenal target” excited a lot of people around the league, and after his first two performances in the league, expect more European clubs to put him on their shortlists.

STRENGTHS

Dribbling

Passing

Stamina

WEAKNESSES

Aerial duels

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

By: @JayStucchio