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Almiron’s sale a compliment to his Atlanta United teammates

Miguel Almiron’s record-setting transfer to Newcastle is a compliment not only to the player, the club and MLS, but it’s also a compliment to his teammates at Atlanta United, according to manager Frank de Boer.

“You made it possible for him to be a star,” de Boer said he told the players on Thursday. 

The team trained as usual in Marietta on Thursday, starting about 90 minutes after Almiron’s $27 million move from Atlanta to Newcastle was made official by both clubs. It is the largest transfer of an MLS player in the league’s history, and the most every spent by Newcastle on a player.

“I’m really happy for Miguel because it’s a big step in his career,” teammate Ezequiel Barco said. “I think he deserves it because he’s been working really hard for his opportunity.”

The sale also shows that clubs in MLS are moving in the right direction with the pursuit of younger players who can be developed and sold, instead of the older players who amount to dead money that clubs once pursued.

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De Boer said that MLS at this stage reminds him of his native Holland, where clubs consistently develop and sell young players to the bigger leagues in England, Spain, Italy and Germany. 

Within the past year, the league has had 18-year-old winger Alphonso Davies go from Vancouver to Bayern Munich, 23-year-old goalkeeper Zack Steffen from Columbus to Manchester City, and 19-year-old midfielder Tyler Adams go from New York Red Bulls to RB Leipzig. D.C. United 24-year-old midfielder Luciano Acosta is on the verge of a shock move to Paris-Saint Germain on Thursday. Dozens of academy players who have yet to sign with their parent MLS clubs have been signed by clubs in Europe, as well.

“I think we can be proud of that,” de Boer said. “Young players will come here to make first steps to hopefully a fantastic career.”

Barco, 19, is one of those young players. His $15 million transfer from Independiente prior to the 2018 season remains a league record for an incoming player. 

Asked if Almiron’s move boosts his confidence that coming to Atlanta United and MLS was the correct decision for his career, he said, “the MLS is a good league and you are seeing it grow a lot the past few years. This move for Miguel is extra motivation for players to show them that if you are working hard and doing things well that if your moment comes good things can happen.”

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