Newcastle’s record signing Almiron raring to get started

Miguel Almiron poses for a photo after the 2018 MLS Cup championship game against the Portland Timbers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Reuters pic)

LONDON: Newcastle United’s record signing Miguel Almiron hopes to make his debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on Monday having trained with his new teammates this week.

The Paraguay forward joined the Magpies on a five-and-a-half-year deal from MLS champions Atlanta United a week ago.

British media reported Newcastle had paid around 21 million pounds (US$27.18 million) for the 24-year-old, surpassing the 16 million pounds they paid Real Madrid for Michael Owen in 2005.

Almiron, who has 13 caps, scored 13 goals and provided 13 assists to help Atlanta beat Portland Timbers to lift the MLS Cup on Dec 9 for the first major silverware in the club’s short history but he has not played a competitive game since then.

“It’s down to the manager (Rafa Benitez), and how he perceives the situation, as to whether I’ll be ready on Monday, but certainly I feel ready and I’m keen to take part,” Almiron told a news conference at St James’ Park on Thursday.

Newcastle is 15th in the standings with 24 points from 25 games, just two points above the relegation zone.

Asked about the club-record fee to bring him to Newcastle he added, “First and foremost I see it as an honour. It’s something that I try not to pay too much attention to. It’s something that is secondary when it’s compared to me helping the team.

“As players of this club, Newcastle United, which has so much history, that is pressure in itself in terms of wanting to do well. We know what the fans demand of us, but it doesn’t concern me overly. I’m just going to focus on playing.”

Almiron also spoke of his excitement at the prospect of playing at St James’ Park in front of the Newcastle fans for the first time against Huddersfield Town later this month.

“I think it’ll be absolutely great,” he said. “I think the feeling will be magnificent. I’d like to say I’m really grateful for the way I’ve been welcomed by the supporters.

“I’ve felt that support and the kindness and good feelings towards me already. I really can’t wait for the moment to come where I can actually turn out for the side here at home.”