Pundit Danny Mills has played down Allan Saint-Maximin’s comments about his teammates.
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The Frenchman recently conducted an interview with French outlet SoFoot in which he is reported to have said “those who have played with me know very well that in terms of pure quality, I have nothing to envy (from) Sadio Mane.
“The day when I have a player capable of finishing the (assists), I will have seasons with 10-15 assists, and I will change opinions in the people’s heads.”
The comments come during a particularly lean period for the 25-year-old. Somewhat surprisingly linked with a move away from St James’ Park, the winger has not scored since January and has only contributed one assist since September after a productive start to the campaign.
Naturally, such comments would jar after a difficult season for Saint-Maximin, although it’s worth remembering it’s not the first time he’s been open and honest. In May 2021, he told Sky Sports in no uncertain terms the club should be showing more ambition, calling for the permanent signing of Joe Willock.
Saint-Maximin has spoken of a promising future for Newcastle under the PIF ownership, which he seems far more likely to be hinting at.
The mood amongst the camp appears to be good at the moment and, according to Mills, the comments will do little to rock the boat.
What has been said of Saint-Maximin’s comments?
Speaking to Football Insider, Mills said: “When you read it in black and white it looks far worse than it actually is.
“Chris Wood is not the greatest striker in the world, Callum Wilson hasn’t been up front for the majority of the season.
“We don’t know what question he was asked to get that answer.
“I don’t think he’s done it deliberately or intentionally. There’s a translation issue, a context issue and a dialect issue.
“If I was playing right-wing and you asked ‘Would you like more assists this season?’ Then you’re going to say ‘Yes, I’ve created chances but they’ve got to put it in the back of the net. Look at the chances I’ve created, 30, and I’ve got two assists. It’s not my fault’.
“You’re not having a go at anyone, it becomes facts.”
How many assists does Saint-Maximin have this season?
34 appearances across all competitions has yielded five goals and four assists this season.
Indeed, according to FBREF data, Saint-Maximin’s expected assists figure stands at 4.9, so it’s not as if he is laying on the kind of chances his teammates should be expected to score.
Still, Howe is said to be looking forward to the summer break, a period in which it is hoped he can integrate the player into his tactical framework to a greater extent.