Miguel Almiron looks like a choir boy, with his cherubic features and mischievous smile, but the baby face masks a steely determination that will serve Newcastle United's record signing well in the difficult months ahead.

Newcastle expect much from the 24-year-old Paraguay international, whose two years with Atlanta United turned him into Major League Soccer's most expensive export at £21 million ($40.3m).

He is, as first impressions go, not long a man, weighing no more than 64kg with his kit and boots on. Slender to the point of skinny. Appearances can be deceptive.

Almiron, by his own admission is "no angel" and those who worked closest with him in the US insist there is far more to him than a few flicks and tricks. There is toughness behind the wide-eyed innocence, but he will be tested like never before on Tyneside.


"Football's not just about skill and ability," said Almiron, who was the most expensive signing of a rather subdued January transfer window for Premier League clubs.

"Especially in this league when the tempo is so high. It's about working hard and to succeed, you've got to put a real shift in. Don't judge me on my YouTube highlights, judge me when I start playing.

"I try not to think about the pressure of being the record signing or pay attention to it. As players of this club, Newcastle United, which has so much history, that is pressure in itself in terms of wanting to do well.

"First and foremost, I see it as an honour to be the record signing and an honour to be a Paraguayan representing my country in the Premier League. Like every player who comes to England, I want to go on and achieve big things."

Confident, but also humble. Almiron does not make any wild promises or bold predictions.

"It's going to be quite tough adapting to the Premier League after playing in MLS," he added. "The tempo is different — it's higher and there is more pressing, It's a more difficult league, but it's something I feel I'll overcome."