Liam Kennedy: Why Allan Saint-Maximin does not even make my top THREE Newcastle United players of the season

You've seen the polls, probably voted in them.

Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 12:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th July 2020, 12:46 pm

And bar the official club award – which went to Martin Dubravka – there seems to be a mesmerising, unpredictable, free-spirited runaway winner.

But for me, Allan Saint-Maximin would not get in my top THREE Newcastle United players of the season – in fact, he just scrapes in the top FIVE.

Picking a player of the season is subjective. If you like what you see from someone in black and white, more often than not you'll go for him.

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NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Joe Gomez of Liverpool runs with the ball under pressure from Allan Saint-Maximin of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Liverpool FC at St. James Park on July 26, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

And there is A LOT to like and love about ASM.

His pace, bravery with the ball and trickery have wowed since football restarted. He's caught the eye of everyone who has seen him play... after the restart.

For me, it's about a lot more than that.

Saint-Maximin is a match-winner and few possess the talent with the ball at his feet and one, two, three defenders in front of him.

Martin Dubravka is Newcastle United player of the season, according to our writer Liam Kennedy.

But has he done enough to be named the best player at United over the course of a WHOLE season? Not for me.

Injuries prevented ASM having too much of an impact early doors and from then on in, he never quite got into his flow. Lockdown seemed to be a leveller for the winger both physically and mentally – allowing him to reset in both departments before coming back with a bang for maybe six/seven of the 10 post-restart matches.

When picking my players of the season, I want more consistency.

Federico Fernandez has been the epitome of that. A solid 7/10 performer throughout the campaign. But he's not flashy enough to get the title. You have to strike a balance, of course.

Somewhere in the middle of Fernandez and Saint-Maximin are Miguel Almiron and Jonjo Shelvey, the club's top scorer in all competitions and the club's Premier League top marksman. Shelvey is the joint lowest NUFC top flight scorer ever.

Almiron was brilliant for Newcastle from December through to July. Dropped off at the end and was patchy before breaking his duck pre-Christmas but his metronomic dynamism was key Steve Bruce & Co, in victory and defeat, whatever the weather. An asset to any team.

Shelvey scored some key top flight goals and in patches was the world class passer we know he can be. But as has always been the case with the former Charlton, Liverpool, Swansea and England midfielder, he never quite does enough of the good things. He is quality, but consistently so? Still not at that level. I suppose if he was he'd be playing for a team higher placed than United.

So that brings me on to my player of the season - and you've already guessed it - slovak stopper Dubravka.

He's got an error in him, haven't they all, but he won more points for United than he lost this season. By far the busiest keeper in the top flight and stood up to the constant barrage well. Is really starting to find his voice, too.

Not the flash, dash Saint-Maximin or the Argentine Asado-cooked Lomo-like defending of Fernandez. He does not have the buzz of abeja ocupada Almiron or the floating grace and sniper snap pass of Shelvey, but he's a rock, a solid one, upon which the foundations of United's 13th-placed finish was built, however underwhelming that may seem.

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