Editorial (February 1, 2019) – Atlanta United FC are basking in the warm glow of playmaker Miguel Almiron’s transfer for a record fee, but they may have had help from an unlikely source—MLS Eastern Conference rivals New York Red Bulls and their own recently sold young star, Tyler Adams.
Could Miguel Almiron’s transfer have been helped by Tyler Adams’ hot start at RB Leipzig
It’s unlikely we’ll ever know exactly what pushed Newcastle’s decision makers to ultimately relent and pull the trigger on the deal to bring Almiron to the English club for a reported $27 million, but just days before the move was finalized, they had the opportunity to watch another young MLS product impress in his first start in a top-flight European league.
Timing of Miguel Almiron’s transfer
Adams, the 19-year-old former NYRB midfielder who seems destined for a leading role with the U.S. National Team, provided 90 minutes of evidence showing that MLS performance can translate to European success. Two days later, news broke that Miguel Almiron’s transfer was done.
Consider this timeline:
All of human history before 2019: Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is widely regarded as one of the cheapest owners in sports. The Chronicle, a daily newspaper based in Newcastle upon Tyne, in 2018 describes Ashley as a man who “has run Newcastle on the cheap.” And the club’s refusal to spend on players creates tension with manager Rafa Benitez, who threatens to leave if he doesn’t get more talent to work with.
Early January 2019: Newcastle show serious interest in Almiron but are reluctant to meet Atlanta’s asking price. The Chronicle reports as late as January 15 that Newcastle have not submitted a new bid since Atlanta rejected their offer in December.
January 27, 2019: Adams shines in his first start for German club RB Leipzig. He goes the full 90 minutes and earns rave reviews from fans and media on both sides of the Atlantic. Bundesliga.com calls it “a debut to remember” and dubs him Man of the Matchday.
January 29, 2019: Newcastle up their offer. Scott Wilson of The Northern Echo reports that Newcastle and Atlanta have agreed to terms, noting that “The Magpies have spent most of the month refusing to increase their bid, but relented in the last 24 hours” (emphasis added).
Of course, the other important date is January 31, the last day of the Premier League’s transfer window. The pressure of that deadline and the threat of relegation surely played the biggest roles in Newcastle’s decision to add a major talent.
But those factors don’t explain why the English club finally decided to roll some extremely expensive dice on a player from Major League Soccer. The league doesn’t have a history of being a steady supplier of successful young talent to Europe, and it seems reasonable for a buyer to hesitate on spending so much on a player from an unproven source.
But Adams’ strong first match showed that a young MLS product can have an immediate impact at the next level, and that may have been the last drop that broke through the dam of Ashley’s spendthrift ways.