Now, the Newcastle United winger is skipping past Premier League defenders with ease. No wonder Steve Bruce didn’t want to rest him against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
Saint-Maximin, making a fourth start in the space of 11 days, looked anything but tired in this evening’s behind closed game as he set up three goals in a 4-1 for his team.
Tonight’s result lifted the club up to 13th place, but this team could push even higher between now and the end of the season.
The team is now set up Bruce’s way – and it’s scoring goals, and the club’s head coach, as well as Saint-Maximin and his team-mates, deserves credit.
Attention was refocused on the proposed takeover after Sunday’s 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Manchester City, and Bruce again fielded questions on the deal – and his own future – ahead of the club’s visit to the Vitality Stadium.
Bruce insisted that he was planning for the future at the club, which has signed goalkeeper Mark Gillespie on a free transfer and secured Andy Carroll and Javier Manquillo on new deals.
However, the really big decisions must wait until the ownership situation is resolved, and the end is seemingly in sight for the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test after months of discussions and deliberations.
Chief executive Richard Masters hopes the process, the outcome of which could have a profound impact on the future of a club which has stagnated under Mike Ashley’s ownership, will conclude “shortly”.
The end is not yet in sight for a season which started almost 11 months ago. Bruce and his players must play on – and on. The cup defeat had left Saint-Maximin “extremely tired”, according to Bruce. The winger, however, was again one of the first names
Saint-Maximin, without his trademark headband, made an early impact, setting up Gayle for his fifth-minute goal after Bournemouth got caught in possession deep in their own half.
Bruce fielded Joelinton on the left, and Sean Longstaff, playing as a No.10, saw a lot of the ball in the early stages.
It got better for Newcastle. Saint-Maximin, by now on the left, cut inside and skipped past three Bournemouth players before pulling the ball back for Longstaff, who side-footed it home. It was a sensational move from Saint-Maximin, who has had a sensational first season on Tyneside.
Longstaff soon limped off the field – he was replaced by Miguel Almiron – and United took their two-goal advantage into the break.
Almiron netted a third with a delightful finish after bursting into the box in the 57th minute, and substitute Valentino Lazaro added a fourth after replacing Saint-Maximin. Dan Gosling netted a late consolation for Bournemouth.
Newcastle are now just three points short of last season’s 45-point tally. They look certain to surpass that figure.
Bruce, almost a year into the job, still might not have the full support of all United fans, but the players, unquestionably, are playing for him ahead of a decision on the takeover.