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Allan Saint Maximin: French Newcastle winger showing great potential

Allan Saint Maximin joined Newcastle in the summer gone-by for a fee of around £20 million. A lot of money for the Magpies to splash out on a single player, given Mike Ashley’s lack of interest in helping the club progress. Then again, Joelinton cost a staggering £40 million, so comparatively he was low risk. We’ve seen how the latter has turned out so far, but it’s been a completely different story for the Frenchman. He’s been a joy to watch.

Background

The 22 year old was always highly rated in his homeland. The talent was there, just a lack of end product. Saint Maximin came through the Saint-Etienne youth academy before making 9 appearances for them in 2014/15. Monaco signed him permanently before loaning him out for the following two seasons. His sole season in the Bundesliga was disappointing, producing just 1 goal in 16 games. Then back in France, there were improvements at Bastia. Enough for Nice to then sign him for an undisclosed fee.

His two years with Les Aiglons were the best of his career. 9 goals and 10 assists between 2017 and 2019 showed that the French U21 international had something to give. Granted they aren’t exceptional stats. But alongside the flair and entertainment, it showed that he was capable of producing the goods.

Allan Saint Maximin in action for OGC Nice

Now at Newcastle, in a side that is starved of creativity and any sort of goal scoring threat, Saint Maximin hasn’t done too badly. In a Steve Bruce system when you’ve got Joelinton at the end of your passes, there’s only so much you can do. But there are goal scoring chances he’s missed and opportunities which you have to take in such a tough league.

The Frenchman did score the winner at Southampton yesterday. So he’s gradually improving. But the time is fast approaching to make that transition from a prospect to an established player.

Allan Saint Maximin – Style of Play

At 5ft 8, Saint Maximin has the frame and low centre of gravity you expect from a dynamic young winger. Not the strongest physically, but his agility and skill makes up for it.

Perhaps the definition of a flair player, the former Nice attacker is incredibly exciting to watch. Blistering pace, mesmerising dribbling and fast feet. The video highlights all three of these qualities. The speed at which Saint Maximin can turn his man and then just accelerate while dribbling with the ball is staggering.

A tricky winger too, he showcases his footwork and prowess in the tightest of spaces. Some of that flicks and tricks on display are incredible to watch. An astonishing 4.4 DRIBBLES PER GAME says it all. He’s so difficult to stop for defenders without being hacked down, which explains how he’s been fouled 1.5 times a game on average in 2019/20.

So the pace and skill is clearly on display. A flair player as aforementioned. But in a team that has managed an underwhelming 25 goals in 29 appearances, he’s done fairly well in terms of output. Averaging 1.3 key passes per game, Saint Maximin is the only source of creativity on tyneside. Despite this, just 1 assist this season is perhaps more of a reflection on his teammates than him.

On the cusp of reaching the next level?

Where the former Bastia loanee has to improve is shooting. He’s far too inconsistent in front of goal. Perhaps under a better coach, or just hard work on the training ground, improving his finishing could elevate his game to a whole new level. Just look at Adama Traore this season. That’s what the Frenchman needs to do in order to fulfil his potential.

Allan Saint Maximin is such a likeable player. The flair on the pitch, his great work ethic and his off the pitch personality mean you just want him to do well. It’s no wonder he’s a fan favourite in Newcastle and so liked on Twitter. He wears a Gucci headband for goodness sake. Can you be more of a baller?

“His natural ability is scary. He has a bit to learn too, and if he does, if he sorts the other bits out, we have a hell of a player on our hands.”

Steve Bruce on Saint Maximin

At 22 years old though, next season, we have to see a big improvement in end product. Whether that is at St James’ Park or not remains to be seen. The talent and potential is there, like with many players. But I hope we can see Saint Maximin take it to the next level.

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