Since the transfer record breaking signing of Joelinton from Hoffenheim, the media storm has not died down around Newcastle United. Not only is there the buzz of young Brazilian, but also the name of a young Frenchman who keeps cropping up.
But who is Allan Saint-Maximin? Is he ready for a Premier League move? Hopefully this article could help towards settling any debate.
Currently playing in Ligue 1, the 22 year old has been a stand out star from last season along with Youcef Atal the full/wing back. For anybody that doesn’t follow Ligue 1 football, I highly recommend it. From my own point of view, I think it is one of the deepest pools of talent in Europe, be it Nicolas Pepe at Lille, Teji Savanier at Nimes (now Montpellier) or Maxime Lopez of Marseille. The talent goes beyond PSG.
Last season, what set Saint-Maximin apart was his ability to get the ball to his feet and run at the opposition, and as an added bonus, successfully take on his opponents consistently. You only need to take a look at the table below to see how he stood out in Ligue 1 in that aspect.
Staggeringly he completed 27 more dribbles than the closest player, Hatem Ben Arfa. If we compare that to the Premier League stats last season, Eden Hazard topped the list with 138, followed by Zaha with 113. Clearly if this was an easy skill, the numbers would be a lot closer. As for the other top leagues it was only in Spain where there was any competition, with Messi completing 134, and Sofiane Boufal of Celta topping them all with 144.
But how would he match up to the players at Newcastle United should the move materialise? Let’s take a look.
As you can see when it comes to dribbling, Newcastle’s top two dribblers based on the stats completed 1.2 dribbles per game successfully. When we look at Saint-Maximin in comparison there is a bit of a gulf with an average of 4.2 successful dribbles per game. This stat alone can show why Newcastle are in dire need of a play of the Frenchman’s abilities.
But there’s more. Last season for Newcastle, their most efficient passers of the ball when it came to making that key pass to setting up an opportunity were Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey. As shown by the graphic above, Saint-Maximin’s ability to hit 1.7 key passes a game is on par with Ritchie, who top scored out of the whole squad last season.
On the other side of the spectrum, yes, he get’s dispossessed more often than a majority of the players. But this is because of how direct he plays when he is on the ball, but to counter that he does get fouled quite often too in dangerous areas, and as he matures and develops more physically he will learn his own way of keeping the ball more consistently.
I believe that Allan Saint-Maximin will develop into a top class player, whether it be in the Premier League or if he decides on another path. I would love to see him on our shores week in week out, but that will all depend on if Mike Ashley unties his purse strings again.
If the rumours are true and the price is £20m, then in todays market that is an absolute steal. Newcastle would have a real gem on their hands.