Signing Miguel Almiron was the best thing that could have happened for Newcastle this season. Since his arrival from Atlanta United at the end of the January transfer window, Newcastle looked like a completely different side. It is unfortunate that Almiron failed to score any goals since making his debut on February 11th, but he had a meaningful impact on the team offensively and this is reflected in the fact that Newcastle had one of the best performance records in 2019.
Playing the trio of Almiron, Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez up top enabled Benitez to scrap his defend first, counter-attack 4-2-3-1 formation and deployed an attacking 3-4-3 formation the rest of the season. After this change was implemented, players like Rondon and Perez quickly began to fill up the stat sheet with goals and assists, and Almiron was able to torch defenders down the flank to set up his attacking teammates.
Perez led the team in scoring this season with 12 goals and Rondon was a close second with 11 goals. The Magpies need to turn back the clock a few years to trace the last time the team had two players score in double figures. Perez and Rondon combined to score 23 goals this season and they have a combined tally of nine assists, which means they were directly involved in 32 of Newcastle’s 42 goals.
Fans have every reason to be excited about Almiron next season, especially since he was able to use the last few months of this season to adapt to English football. However, there is plenty of uncertainty with Perez and Rondon. Rondon has returned to his parent club, West Brom, but the Toon Army want Mike Ashley to spend the cash to sign the Venezuelan to a permanent deal. This could happen if Aston Villa eliminate West Brom from the Championship play-offs today.
In the case of Perez, his recent interviews, tweets and body language are indicating that he is ready to leave Newcastle for a new challenge, preferably in Spain. It remains to be seen what will happen with this trio next season, but they undoubtedly impressed everyone with their performances this campaign.