On December 9th, Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron raised Major League Soccer’s MLS Cup after his club defeated the Portland Timbers 2-0 in the competition’s finale. The Paraguayan had been in MLS for fewer than two seasons, yet he had already established himself as the most dynamic playmaker in the league. In front of an MLS record crowd of 73,000-plus fans, Almiron capped off a season in which he scored 13 goals and assisted 13 strikes in 37 games. In total, Almiron contributed 26 goals, averaging a goal or assist every 121 minutes of play.
Almiron is now one of the most highly sought after players heading into the January transfer window. Yet, just two years ago, no one knew who he was. How has he become a player on the tip of world football’s tongue? The answer is, by continuing to work hard and develop as a player.
Miguel Almiron – A Long Road
Almiron made his professional football debut, not in the United States or Europe, but in Paraguay. Signed by Cerro Porteno at the age of 14, he made his first-team debut five years later. Although he scored six goals in 39 games for Cerro Porteno, his stay wasn’t long. Almiron attracted the eyes of Argentina’s Lanus who signed him shortly thereafter.
He tallied just four goals in 45 games for Lanus and while he wasn’t setting South American football on fire, he was a regular player for the team. However, Almiron’s life changed in December 2016 as Atlanta United, needing fresh undiscovered talent ahead of their first-ever MLS season, signed Almiron.
The transfer would have gone unnoticed by many, except when the MLS season kicked off in March 2017, football fans began to see the tricky forward outwit the league’s feeble defenders with ease. The forward scored nine goals and tallied eight assists in his first season playing 30 games. This past year, he did even better, registering 13 goals as the black and red marched to the MLS Cup.
Almiron is now on the transfer target list of Newcastle, Arsenal, and other big clubs in Europe. His move to the U.S. to play for a fledgeling Atlanta United paid off. Rather than staying in Argentina with Lanus or moving to another South American team, Almiron took a massive step, a gamble, and it paid off.
His decision to get away from his comfort zone should be a lesson to young footballers. Football is a long road and success doesn’t come easy. Many times, you have to go out and take all of your opportunities to achieve success.
Miguel Almiron will need to work hard to prove himself if he joins a European club. He has already shown once he can do it, so there is a good chance more football fans will become familiar with the Paraguayan in the future.
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