Newcastle has finally secured the playmaker it desired, while Atlanta United no longer has a Designated Player overflow.

By Avi Creditor
January 29, 2019

Newcastle has finally secured the playmaker it desired, while Atlanta United no longer has a Designated Player overflow.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Premier League side and MLS Cup champions have agreed on a transfer for the Paraguayan superstar after a protracted saga, with Almiron heading to Newcastle prior to Thursday's transfer deadline in England. Almiron, who was a vital part of Atlanta's success in its first two seasons in MLS, will play for Rafa Benitez after scoring 22 goals and adding 30 assists in two regular seasons and playoff campaigns under Tata Martino.

There has been no official mention yet of the fee, though Atlanta president Darren Eales had been adamant that Almiron was worth in the $30 million range–a figure that would smash Newcastle's club record of £16 million ($21 million) paid for Michael Owen in 2005. Whether Atlanta came close to receiving that remains to be seen, but The Telegraph reports the deal is for $27 million, which would eclipse the previous MLS record for an outgoing transfer set by Alphonso Davies and his move to Bayern Munich (up to $22 million).

The sale of Almiron, who turns 25 next month, comes as little surprise. After the signing of Pity Martinez from River Plate, Atlanta was over the league allotment of three DPs, meaning that one of either Josef Martinez, Ezequiel Barco or Almiron needed to make way in order for the club to be roster compliant. Martinez just signed a new five-year extension, removing him from consideration, and Barco is in his second season with the club after a modest return following his MLS-record $15 million arrival from Independiente. Given Almiron's desire to play in Europe and the other factors in play, he was always the more likely DP to be offloaded.

Almiron will look to help Newcastle stave off relegation and remain in the top flight. After Tuesday's surprise win over title contender Manchester City, Newcastle has pulled five points clear of the drop zone.

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