It seems this season that there was a Newcastle United before a fully fit Allan Saint-Maximin and a Newcastle team after the Frenchman got to 100%.
Early on in the campaign the Magpies appeared to be almost entirely creatively defunct. They were a barren offence, with Miguel Almiron toiling and Joelinton isolated.
However, since the 22-year-old came back into the starting line-up against Manchester United in October, the Newcastle team has transformed to a now-passable Premier League outfit. The attack, in particular, looks to be a completely different proportion for opposition defences to deal with.
That’s certainly the view of journalist Ciaran Kelly: “I think with Saint-Maximin, since he’s come into the team it’s changed the way Newcastle play,” he told The Chronicle [04/11; before 08:06]. “It’s been like that final piece of the jigsaw.”
Kelly has hit the nail on the head, there. You can’t put it any better, and the revelatory impact Saint-Maximin has had on Steve Bruce’s team over the past two months is why he is arguably the Magpies’ most undroppable player at the moment.
The statistics tell you how well he’s been playing. As per WhoScored.com, the youngster is averaging 1.6 shots, 1.1 key passes and a monster 4.3 successful dribbles per game. Plus, he is also being fouled 1.3 times an outing which, given Newcastle’s set piece prowess, is a big thing.
Just take a look at his WhoScored ratings from that Man United game onwards: 7.08, 6.83, 7.28, 7.59, 7.47, 6.90 and 7.23. Simply put, he hasn’t had a bad game.
There’s no way Bruce can drop him at any point right now. His attack would diminish hugely, there’s no doubt about it. The thing with Saint-Maximin, though, is that he’s only getting to get better. He’s just 22 years of age!