From MLS Fantasy to FPL: Previewing Newcastle's Miguel Almiron
Newcastle United have broken their transfer record on a player from Major League Soccer, a competition dubbed as a 'retirement league' by casual pundits. Not only has Mike Ashley's club broken their record, but they've found a diamond in the rough by signing a young and incredibly talented attacking midfielder in a competitive league that is often overlooked. Miguel Almiron, the player in question, just so happened to be the top MLS Fantasy player during the 2018 season, and we just happen to cover MLS right here at The Hype Train, so there's no better people to give you the lowdown on Newcastle's new acquisition. All aboard.
Almiron and Newcastle: A Fantasy match made in heaven?
For the tens of thousands of MLS Fantasy players, there's something slightly exciting about Miguel Almiron's move to the North East of England. After a strong debut season in 2017 with Atlanta in MLS, Almiron was the key Fantasy player during the 2018 season, finishing as the best overall player with 269 points, beating teammate Josef Martinez to the golden podium spot by just 3 points.
Over the years we have witnessed, and reported on, Premier League players jumping ship to MLS, but rarely (if ever) have we experienced a top player moving the other way to English isles. Now is one such occasion.
We understand levels, and the massive gulf between the league's, with MLS more akin to the EFL Championship than it is the Premier League, but the actual like-for-like comparison in regards to the Fantasy game is if Liverpool's Mohamed Salah jumped ship to a lower-mid table MLS side - a football mad city and team like Montreal Impact who play up north in constantly cold temperatures .
For MLS and Atlanta, this is also a massive deal. Not only is the £20 million move a Newcastle transfer record, it's a record sale for any player. Atlanta are the real winners here as they have already recruited reigning South American Player of the Year, Pity Martinez, to fill Almiron's hefty boots for the reigning MLS Cup holders.
For us, we are fascinated to see how the Paraguayan, capped 13 times by his country, will transition to the Premier League, and if he'll become adorned to the masses like he was in MLS.
Based on Almiron's journey to Europe, we're leaning on the side of success.
Miguel Almiron's 2018 Season for Atlanta United
Atlanta started the 2018 season poorly, with a 4-0 defeat at Houston Dynamo, and ended the campaign in poor fashion too, losing 4-1 at Toronto in a result that cost them the equivalent of the league title - the Supporters' Shield - which was won by New York Red Bulls on the final day of the season, coined Decision Day in the States.
The two defeats were low notes, both for the team, and for Miguel Almiron, as the Midfielder only missed 2 regular season games, both being the final league games of the season.
The left-footed midfielder scored 12 goals and assisted 14 times, many of which came from set-piece situations. Almiron took penalties when Josef Martinez was substituted prematurely, and was the first over the ball on free-kicks.
In MLS, the assist of the assist can count as an outright assist if the chain of play isn't broken, with Almiron benefiting from this 4 times last season, so in FPL terms he would have only registered 10 assists.
Based on the first-half of the season, Almiron was the clear and runaway favourite for the Player of the Season crown. Averaging 8.41 points-per-game, due to the points scoring system in MLS Fantasy, attacking midfielders are worth their weight in gold, and in Almiron's case, this ended quite literally, with the Paraguay international back at his influential best in Atlanta's 2-0 victory over Portland in the MLS Cup final.
In the regular season, the midfielder managed 2 or less points from 32 appearances just twice last season, with Almiron scooping an incredible 101 attacking and defensive bonus points.
Almiron's case is furthered by the fact that he was the top MLS Fantasy player from last season, despite having a dip in form after Week 19 due to injury niggles, and on top of that there is no doubting his ability to entertain on the pitch. By a long stretch, Atlanta were the best team to watch last season, with Almiron playing in a free role for his side so can he find games and put his stamp on everything positive about Atlanta's attack. If it not for Almiron's industry and creativity, it would have been unlikely that Josef Martinez would have been as clinical as he was this past year.
The King of MLS Fantasy transitions to Fantasy Premier League
To understand why Miguel Almiron was such a hit in MLS Fantasy last season, we've provided a breakdown of the points scoring system (and one that we believe FPL would be better off for adopting as their own in the future).
Point Scoring in Fantasy Premier League:
For playing up to 60 minutes: 1pt
For playing 60 minutes or more (excluding injury time): 2pts
For each goal scored by a Goalkeeper or Defender: 6pts
For each goal scored by a Midfielder: 5pts
For each goal scored by a Forward: 4pts
For each goal assist: 3pts
For a clean sheet by a Goalkeeper or Defender: 4pts
For a clean sheet by a Midfielder: 1pt
For every 3 shot saves by a Goalkeeper: 1pt
For each penalty save: 5pts
For each penalty miss: -2pts
Bonus points for the best players in a match: 1-3pts
For every 2 goals conceded by a Goalkeeper or Defender: -1pts
For each yellow card: -1pt
For each red card: -3pts
For each own goal: -2pts
In FPL, the main points from midfielders comes from scoring, assisting, keeping clean sheets and via the BPS system. In MLS Fantasy however, the door is open for unlimited Bonus per game, with each player eligible to earn the below.
Point Scoring in MLS Fantasy:
Playing in a game: 1pt
Playing at least 60 minutes in a game (includes points mentioned above): 2pts
Each goal scored by your goalkeepers or defenders: 6pts
Each goal scored by your midfielders or forwards: 5pts
Each assist: 3pts
Goalkeeper clean sheet (must play 60 minutes): 5pts
Defender clean sheet (must play 60 minutes): 5pts
Midfielder clean sheet (must play 60 minutes): 1pt
Penalty miss: -2pts
Penalty save: 5pts
Every penalty earned: 2pts
Own goal: -2pts
Own goal assist: 1pt
Every 2 goals conceded by Goalkeeper's or Defender's: -1pt
Yellow card: -1pt
Red card (includes any yellow card points): -3pts
Every 3 saves: 1pt
Every 35 passes and 85% success or more: 1pt
Every 70 passes and 85% success or more (including above points): 2pts
Every 4 shots: 1pt
Every 4 fouls received: 1pt
How does a player accumulate Bonus Points in MLS Fantasy?
The official MLS Fantasy game does bonus points differently. Instead of in the FPL, which sees players rewarded based of BPS, players in MLS don't miss out on bonus and are awarded on the following criteria:
4 clearances = 1 bonus
2 blocks = 1 bonus
4 interceptions = 1 bonus
4 tackles = 1 bonus
6 recovered balls = 1 bonus
Error leading to a goal = -1 bonus
3 crosses = 1 point
3 key passes = 1 point
Every big chance created = 1 point
How does this all equate to Almiron in FPL?
Almiron managed 101 bonus points in MLS Fantasy last season, with much of the BPS criteria covering the above bonus criteria, so by this logic Almiron has the potential to be a BPS magnet, much like a Gylfi Sigurdsson or David Silva, when amassing bonus points.
Does Miguel Almiron have any FPL potential in the 2018/19 season?
Keen observers out there will compare Almiron to Florian Thauvin, a lightweight play-maker that joined the club with a big reputation. The problem with the eventual World Cup winner was he struggled with the physical nature of the English game and was turfed back out to France within a year.
What Almiron does possess though is blistering speed, an eye for goal and a match winning pass, and set-piece capabilities that will have him loved by Newcastle fans across the world. The transfer has provided a boost to the club, with the deal on the back of a brilliant 2-1 home victory against Man City during Gameweek 24.
Given the state of the Newcastle team, Almiron will fit perfectly as the designated 'Number 10', potentially taking the role of Ayoze Perez in the side. Josef Martinez's international strike partner, Salomon Rondon, is the new link-up for Almiron, which should bode well considering Almiron's pace and direct nature in front of goal, should lead to better service, and more Fantasy potential.
Almiron and Atlanta last played in early December, however, so there is a risk that Almiron might need a few weeks to get up to speed, which all bodes well for a run of good fixtures, starting with a Gameweek 27 home fixture against lowly Huddersfield.
Priced at £6.0 million to begin in FPL, this is about right given the pricing structure the game adopts, though the price is inflated given that Rondon is only £5.7m and only Ayoze Perez, priced at £6.1m, costs more.
Almiron's appeal will unveil itself quite quickly if he assumes responsibility on set-pieces, though he'll have competition from Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey in that department.
Better yet? Almiron could debut for The Toon at the home of English football, Wembley, against a Spurs side currently derailed with injuries and a general lack of form. There is no better occasion for the new record signing to announce himself, much to the delight of Atlanta and Newcastle faithfuls.
You can read more of our latest news from in the FPL, Premier League, and around the footballing world on our Football page by clicking here, or by clicking the image below.
Want to know more about The Hype Train?
The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in the Fantasy Premier League (#FPL), providing beautiful graphics and weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb ranking tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review movies, live sport, and professional wrestling.
As well as providing FPL articles on our website, we are a founding Contributor to the new Fantasy Football Hub, where you can find more unique articles, including weekly Power Rankings, from The Hype Team. You can support us and read exclusive members only content for just £2 per-month by clicking here.
The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog 2016' by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), with the final presentation held at Old Trafford in Manchester.