“I remember Hatem Ben Arfa played here,” he told The Telegraph. “He told me to sign. He is a good friend, we grew up in the same area. He had some of his best days at Newcastle and wished he had stayed longer.
“I am here for a long time. This is a long-term project, that is why my family have moved with me. This is a big club with lots of history and we want to get back to the level it was at. But it is not all going to change in one transfer window.”
Plenty of people have compared Saint-Maximin to Ben Arfa since the former joined the latter’s old club last summer. You can see why, too. The 22-year-old is, like Ben Arfa, a mercurial winger with blistering pace and remarkable skills. However, neither man is the hardest worker, nor do they always seem in control of what their feet are doing. They are both equally capable of brilliance and anonymity, although the Newcastle fans will be hoping Saint-Maximin leans more towards the first of those. Ben Arfa was absolutely tremendous for much of his time on Tyneside, and if Saint-Maximin can match what he did then most Newcastle fans will probably be happy. However, for the money he cost last summer you’d hope for a bit more consistency from the youngster in the years to come. If he can do that then he will prove to be an even bigger hero at St James’ Park than the man who told him to sign for the club was.