What the Newcastle United takeover means for Allan Saint-Maximin's future

Allan Saint-Maximin, for much of his time at Newcastle United, has been one of the first names on the teamsheet.

Wednesday, 6th April 2022, 1:44 pm

And with good reason, as the winger, unquestionably, is a match-winner.

Before the takeover of the club last October, many fans feared that Saint-Maximin, signed from Nice in 2019 for £16.5million, would look to leave, frustrated at a lack of ambition under Mike Ashley.

Speaking about his future in 2020, Saint-Maximin said: "For my part, everything will depend on this development. If the club’s developing well, and it’s in line with my ambitions, staying is a possibility.

"If things don’t turn out like that, obviously the question of leaving will arise.

"The Champions League’s a big dream, every footballer wants to play it. It’s a great, historic club that has a lot of dreams, and there’s everything around it to achieve this goal."

Champions League football was never a genuine ambition during Mike Ashley’s time as owner, though Alan Pardew took United into the Europa League in 2012 following a fifth-placed finish.

The takeover has changed everything. The club, now 80%-owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, is keen to start looking up the Premier League table after years of relegation battles.

Allan Saint-Maximin signed a new contract at Newcastle United in 2020.

Bruno Guimaraes revealed what the club’s hierarchy had told him before his move to relegation-threatened Newcastle in January.

“They were very up front and honest about it,” said the midfielder. “They didn’t disguise that the main objective, and challenge, was remaining in the Premier League this season.

“But, in the seasons coming, the objective is to be in the Champions League – and eventually to win the Champions League.

“I believe in the project. I believe in everything they spoke to me about, and I’m really happy to be a part of this project.”

Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe.

Those comments would have been unthinkable from anyone associated at the club a few months ago.

The “project” is seemingly perfect for ambitious Saint-Maximin, a unique talent who should be playing European football.

Speaking late last year, Saint-Maximin said: “I hope that with the takeover of the club, my desires, my ambitions will be able to be in line with everything that is happening at the moment.”

Yet this week he has been linked with a move away from St James’s Park. Why?

A report in the Daily Mail ahead of last weekend’s 5-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur claimed that the club was “willing to cash in” on Saint-Maximin – who signed an improved contract in late 2020 – this summer.

Saint-Maximin, it was reported, could be sold for £50million, and this fee, plus money from further sales, would be added to a summer transfer kitty of around £60million.

Certainly, there’s no blank cheque for recruitment, and the club must work within the confines of the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability rules. Ashley's parsimony left United with an additional allowance of around £200million to spend over and above what the club generates through TV income, sales and so on.

Companies House records show that Newcastle new owners have already put an additional £78.5million into the club to cover expenditure on transfer fees, so there’s already less room for manoeuvre.

Eddie Howe – who recalled Allan Saint-Maximin to his starting XI against Tottenham – said last week that he wants to keep the core of his squad together.

“We want to try and keep the main group together, because, as I said, the mentality and spirit of the group is very good,” said United’s head coach. “I don’t want to break that up.”

There will be a number of departures in the summer. The club’s new owners have an idea where they want to be – and they want to get there quickly. Change is coming – on and off the pitch.

And players who want to be part of the club’s future must deliver on the pitch – week in, week out.

Howe wants consistency from Saint-Maximin, who has scored five goals so far this season. Saint-Maximin, according to Howe, has “bought in” to what is being asked of him with and without the ball.

“Maxi’s certainly a unique footballer,” said Howe, who could have a significant role in the club’s summer recruitment if Dan Ashworth, the club’s choice for its new sporting director role, is not able to join until later this year.

“I’ve never coached anyone quite like him – and that’s a positive thing. But it’s about harnessing that and trying to make that function for the team.

“For a player of his type, consistency will always be an issue, because it’s very difficult to do what he does

“But as long as we get the buy-in from him to the team, and he’s really committed to the things he finds more difficult, which would be recovery runs, working off the ball, the other things will take care of themselves.”

Planning is already underway ahead of the club’s summer recruitment, though only so much can be done while the 15th-placed club’s Premier League status is still in doubt.

Saint-Maximin, linked with Aston Villa, is certainly a player capable of moving to the next level with Newcastle, but the club will have already identified targets who they also feel can make that step up.

Players must continue to “buy in” to what Howe wants ahead of the summer window, when the club will have to make some tough decisions on incomings and outgoings. No player, however, is bigger than the team.

Saint-Maximin's been a big player for the club since moving to St James’s Park – and he can grow with the club.

That said, he may no longer be one of the first names on the teamsheet.