MLS may often be thought of as a retirement home for European legends, but young players such as Miguel Almirón are changing that narrative, one transfer at a time.
On December 5, 2016, a young Paraguayan signed with Atlanta United, a new expansion of which little was expected but much was hoped. He was another Designated Player and cost Darren Eales and the Five Stripe front office $8 million.
He was named MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2017 and was apart of both the 2017 and 2018 MLS All-Star Games. He has scored 21 goals and recorded 28 assists in 62 appearances, led one of the brightest teams in the history of the league, and has changed the way the game is played. Miguel Almirón is a sensation and he is changing the league.
And now, almost two years after the signing, Almirón’s impact on the club and the league has been felt.
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His dominance in Major League Soccer has not gone unnoticed by top-tier European clubs. The rising star has been linked with multiple clubs across Europe, including the likes of Premier League stalwarts, Newcastle United and Arsenal.
Almirón has expressed his interest in leaving the Five Stripes and Major League Soccer to pursue a career in Europe from his first day in Atlanta and, as his time inevitably comes to a close, the league can do nothing but smile as his departure is just another part of a rising movement in North American soccer.
Almirón arrived in MLS as another sign of a changing league with many teams going to Europe to sign old legends to simply sell jerseys and fill up stadiums. But Almirón’s transfer was different, he came into MLS with no history in Europe and little to no fans knew about the Paraguayan before arriving.
Although little knew about the Paraguayan, he came into MLS full of exciting play and potential, something that seemed to be lacking in the league as many consider it to be a “Retirement League” for legends to come and finish their career.
Almirón’s presence in North America has changed that notion completely with top-level clubs around the world trying to get their hands on the young South American. And he is now just one part of the rising movement of youth in Major League Soccer.
Along with Almirón’s gained interest in Europe, Whitecaps FC star Alphonso Davies has also attracted the eyes of the world by signing a league-record transfer fee of $22 million to German powerhouse Bayern Munich. And with multiple other young players such as Almirón’s teammate Ezequiel Barco and American midfielder Tyler Adams possibly finding their way into the top level of world soccer, there is no doubt that the league is changing.
Almiron arrived a relative nobody. He will leave atop the MLS mountain as he pursues greater peaks. He has and is changing MLS. One transfer at a time.