The Toon Tribune: Why this £16.5m-rated winger is Newcastle’s key man this season

After a turbulent summer period and a subsequent poor start to the season, the Toon faithful are slowly losing enthusiasm with their beloved club. 

The season cannot be wholly written off however, given Newcastle did invest during the transfer window; although they bought to replace, rather than build the squad. The new additions need time to bed in and, although most of the limelight will be on record signing Joelinton, it is another signing who may have more of an impact – winger Allan Saint-Maximin.

Saint-Maximin arrived from Ligue 1 club Nice for a fee worth up to £20m, penning a six-year deal in the process. The 22-year-old is tasked with bolstering United’s frontline, while he demonstrated glimpses of his talent in his cameo appearance off the bench in the opening match against Arsenal; one of the only positives of Newcastle’s season so far. 

The Toon Army will hope for more of the same from Saint-Maximin this season, as he can be a vital member of the squad when kept fit. The Frenchman is a direct and dynamic winger who is renowned for his pace and flair – traits which Newcastle largely lack within the squad. Versatility is another characteristic of the forward, with Saint-Maximin comfortable playing on either flank, as well as in a no.10 role behind the striker. 

Pundits have suggested that work is needed on the Winger’s end product, as he scored only six goals and registered five assists in Ligue 1 last season. Although the figures are somewhat adequate, the player himself as well as the supporters will hope for more, given the price tag. 

Saint-Maximin is still young and raw, while his pace and trickery alone will undoubtedly threaten the opposition as well as excite the Toon Army. The number ten will seek to emulate fellow countrymen Hatem Ben Arfa, Lauren Robert and David Ginola as United’s mercurial Frenchman, while he certainly possesses the traits and potential to do so. 

Although only playing a handful of minutes in his Magpies’ career, Saint-Maximin has already become a fan favourite. Magpies’ fans have taken to the forward’s trendy demeanour, with his hairstyle and selection of headbands commonly praised. 

The Frenchman also frequently interacts with and engages in repartee with supporters on social media, as well as being more than content to take pictures with the locals when spotted in the city. Saint-Maximin’s humble nature was characterised when he visited the club’s foodbank earlier this week, whereby he mingled with staff and families who rely on the foodbank, as well as donating a signed jersey to the cause; this action was particularly appreciated, given the working class nature associated with the city of Newcastle. 

The Frenchman will be assured that his popularity will be echoed by supporters on the terraces. The forward missed the 3-1 defeat at Norwich last week due to injury, with the Magpies seeming toothless in attack. Supporters will hope that he will regain full fitness soon, while a fully fit and functioning Allan Saint-Maximin will undoubtedly harass opposition defences.