When he arrived in the summer for £16.5m from Nice, there was a bubbling degree of anticipation surrounding Allan Saint-Maximin on Tyneside.
It is fair to say he has lived up to expectation, often being the most eye-catching member of Steve Bruce’s squad, lighting up defences with his flair, trickery and pace.
Once he began to add goals to the mix Saint-Maximin’s status as a cult hero amongst the Toon army was well and truly cemented. A recent flurry of assists against Bournemouth has seen the Frenchman register seven goal involvements in 19 Premier League starts. No other Magpie has been more prolific, with top scorer Jonjo Shelvey the only other player to have had a hand in seven Premier League goals for Newcastle.
Although worryingly for Newcastle fans, the 23-year-old’s electric displays have caught the eyes of some potential suitors, reportedly including Arsenal, Napoli and Paris Saint Germain. Meanwhile, additional concern for fans comes via the fact Saint-Maximin’s brother and agent has spoken of his desire to play in Europe.
What did he say?
Speaking to Calcio Napoli Kurtys Saint-Maximin dismissed links with Gennaro Gattuso’s side, saying: “I have never talked to them about a possible transfer of Allan Saint-Maximin. Even in the past, there has been no contact.”
Though he added: “Of course he likes Naples, it is a great club like, Juventus, Inter and Milan are in Italy as well. I still don’t know his future; it is too early to talk about it, but surely he will want to play as a starting player and participate in the Champions League.”
Cause for concern comes via the fact Newcastle will almost certainly not be able to offer Saint-Maximin Champions League football in the foreseeable future, given the Magpies last qualified for the competition in 2003, when Partizan Belgrade embarrassingly dumped the Toon out in the third qualifying round. Meanwhile, the clubs he has been linked with could feasibly offer the French winger the prospect of midweek European clashes.
However, one thing Saint-Maximin will be afforded at St. James’ Park is a starting role as one of the first names on the team sheet. The only reason he has been limited to 19 appearances this term is due to injury and rest after a reoccurring hamstring issue.
Players such as Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa are two other Frenchmen whose varied routes to PSG passed through Tyneside, and it’s difficult to suggest it worked out for either player in the capital. It is now down to Newcastle to reassure Saint-Maximin that remaining at St James’ Park for at least another season is what’s best for his development.