Recently signed, Miguel Almirón, may be unfamiliar to many in the United States, but Atlanta United’s #10 is hailed in South America as one of the world’s most prominent up-and-coming playmakers. Distinguished for his craftiness and exceptional passing ability, the young Paraguayan midfielder has turned the heads of some of the world’s top clubs.
Born in Asunción, Paraguay, Almirón started his youth career at local club, Cerro Porteño. Which coincidentally or not, is one of the teams on ATL UTD Head Coach Tata Martino’s extensive coaching resume. Almirón spent five years climbing Cerro Porteño’s youth development program before signing his first professional contract in 2013 at just 19 years old.
During his spell at Cerro Porteño, Almirón attracted the attention of many South American clubs, and eventually signed with Argentine side, Lanús, the former club of the Portland Timbers’ sensational Argentine playmaker, Diego Valeri.
This year in Argentina, Almirón helped lead Lanús to its second-ever Argentina Primera División title and capped off the season with a standout performance. In the final, the Paraguayan menace relentlessly caused problems for San Lorenzo’s back line, orchestrating the Lanús attack to a four-goal domination, even slotting one in the net himself, ultimately earning Man of the Match honors.
In terms of international playing experience, he started off in 2013 by serving a crucial role in the U-20 Paraguayan side that finished 2nd place in the South American Championship and qualified for the U-20 FIFA World Cup. Following his success with the youth squad, Almirón earned a call-up to the senior Paraguay National Team. Thus far, he has garnered 7 caps (appearances) all in meaningful, critical matches, including 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying and 2016 Copa America Centenario.
With his remarkable ability to produce along the wing and tendency to drift into the middle and create, Almirón has been compared to the likes of Argentina and PSG danger man, Angel Di Maria. His style of play, dictated by speed, vision, intuition, fearlessness and poise on the ball, makes him the ideal attacking package for any team looking for a go-to man.
His impressive track record in the past two years and his discernable world-class potential has caught the eye of Europe’s caliber clubs such as Inter Milan of Serie A and EPL giants Arsenal, who reportedly neared a contract with the young Paraguayan for a whopping €11 million.
At 22 years of age, Almirón is headed into the prime of his soccer career, which could see him mature into a complete player as well as become one of the world’s best playmakers within the next two to three years. Under Head Coach Tata Martino’s fast-paced, possession-oriented system, Atlanta United’s latest signing could flourish in the #10 role, finding the pockets of space in the attacking third, threading the final passes, and wreaking havoc for the opposing back line.
Major League Soccer has seen many creative South American players adapt extremely well to the league and drive their teams to success in recent years such as Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers), and Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas) all which are Argentine products.
Perhaps most notable and prominent, as of late, is Nicolas Lodeiro, signed by the Seattle Sounders in the midst of this year’s season. With 4 goals and 8 assists in the regular season and an additional 4 goals in the postseason, the Uruguayan magician has helped lead the Sounders from the bottom of the table, and out of playoff contention, all the way to their first-ever appearance in the MLS Cup Final.
With the acquisition of young, South American Designated Players, including Argentine Tito Villalba, and now Paraguayan Miguel Almirón, Atlanta United is preparing to make a big splash in their inaugural MLS season.