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Opinion

Allan Saint-Maximin – Enjoy him in the time we have left

1 month ago
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Allan Saint-Maximin has been the only real bright spot of this Steve Bruce era.

No matter how bad the results and overall team performances, the French winger always contributes something that makes you feel it is worth tuning in / turning up.

When you support a mediocre team / club (due to the owner), it is invaluable having somebody like Allan Saint-Maximin to cling to.

A player who fans of other clubs talk about in glowing terms, ASM being somebody who they’d love to see playing for them.

The French winger is that proverbial player who gets fans out of their seats, it might be only one or two pieces of play / magic in some games, but you keep watching waiting for the next one.

Despite all of the positives he has brought in these latest two years of Mike Ashley darkness, I have never really had any proper worries that we might lose him, despite Allan Saint-Maximin regularly giving interviews, especially to French media, saying that ‘one day’ he might have to move to another club unless Newcastle United show the necessary ambition (to persuade him to stay).

That is, until now.

For all his flashes of excitement / inspiration, Allan Saint-Maximin was only directly involved in seven goals in the 2019/20 Premier League season, scoring three and grabbing four assists.

In 2020/21, it was three Premier League goals and four assists, once again directly involved in only the seven PL goals over the course of a full season.

Before joining Newcastle United, Allan Saint-Maximin had a couple of promising seasons at Nice, directly involved in ten Ligue 1 goals (scoring three and seven assists) in 2017/18, then directly involved in nine (scoring six and three assists) in his final Ligue 1 season of 2018/19 before joining Newcastle.

With the lower level of French league football, being involved in nine or ten goals is probably around about the equivalent of seven in the Premier League. So in reality I think, Allan Saint-Maximin has been pretty consistent (if such a term applies to the kind of player he is!) these past for seasons. Entertaining to watch and giving a fair return in terms of end product, though not really progressing to another level(s), even though he appeared / appears to have the raw talent to do so.

Fast forward to the current season and whilst sadly no change / progression / ambition for Newcastle United as a club, plenty of progression for Allan Saint-Maximin.

Whisper it quietly but ASM is very much showing he is moving onto that next level.

Five Premier League matches in and despite the shambolic approach of Steve Bruce and negative tactics leading to Allan Saint-Maximin so often (always?) expected to just do it all himself, ASM has delivered match after match. If anything good has happened in the Premier League for Newcastle this season, very rare that it hasn’t involved the Frenchman.

Villa is the only game that ASM hasn’t delivered a goal or an assist, with that cracking strike against Leeds only the latest.

Only very early days but it is like a switch has been flicked and that focus on real and regular end product is totally there.

Even playing for a poor team like Brucey’s NUFC, I think that barring injuries, this season will see Allan Saint-Maximin getting up to that 15-20 mark when it comes to direct involvement in Premier League goals, either scoring them or making them for others. He might even get double figures on both counts.

So often in the past his shooting was wayward when getting into good positions, that all feels different now. The same I think when delivering for others, even with the limited movement of Newcastle’s other players (exception is Wilson when playing), Saint-Maximin is making better choices on the ball.

I think his attitude / body language has also had an upgrade, at times in the past it might take him only one bad foul to have him looking over at the bench, almost wishing he was going to come off already.

It looks to me a case of we need to enjoy him in the time we have left, as Allan Saint-Maximin doesn’t look like he’ll be here for long now.

He turns 25 this season and I think ASM is now completely focussed on succeeding and as things stand, the route to that is showing at Newcastle he can score and make goals in a poor team, which will then attract the attention of a successful club.

I never thought those end product stats in the past two seasons would ever seal any move, people still needing to be convinced he is capable of more than being an entertainer at one of the lower clubs.

Very difficult I reckon to think he will still be here next season unless something very significant changes. Newcastle fans might even lose him in January if he keeps this kind of end product up, scoring or assisting in pretty much every match.

Imagine Allan Saint-Maximin playing for a better team and playing 80% or 90% of the game in the opposition half, rather than 10% or 20%?

Easy to see how very effective he might be, if keeping his form up.

Newcastle fans might hope that Mike Ashley might make any transfer fee prohibitive in January but I don’t think that would stop clubs if you had such high numbers on goals and assists. By then anyway, Newcastle might be well out of relegation trouble or deeply entrenched in it, either scenario he may well be very willing to take the money if offered.

As for Allan Saint-Maximin himself, he makes all the right noises and I have no doubt he feels a great affinity for Newcastle United and the fans. However, countless players in the past at countless clubs have shown that it is very different once an ambitious successful club makes an official approach and is prepared to pay what it takes.

It seems a long time ago now, when last year we were all anticipating the post-takeover Newcastle United seeing a team built around Allan Saint-Maximin.

There is always hope of something better in the future but for ASM and Newcastle United, I feel that the time is quickly running out for something good to happen for them together.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – Friday 17 September 8pm

Goals:

Newcastle:

Saint-Maximin 44

Leeds:

Raphinha 13

(In brackets the first half stats)

Possession was Leeds 65% (65%) Newcastle 35% (35%)

Total shots were Leeds 21 (13)  Newcastle 17 (7)

Shots on target were Leeds 9 (5) Newcastle 7 (3)

Corners were Leeds 5 (4) Newcastle 4 (1)

Referee: Mike Dean

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Manquillo (Krafth 81), Hayden, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Sean Longstaff, Almiron (Fraser 62), Willock, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton (Murphy 90+1)

Unused Subs:

Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Fernandez, Gayle

Crowd:

50,407 (3,200 Leeds)

(Steve Bruce says he will continue to keep out the noise and keep his dignity – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)

(Marcelo Bielsa gutted after Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – It’s a game we should have won – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Friday’s draw – Read HERE)

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