Newcastle United’s electric wizard Allan Saint-Maximin arrived Tyneside with an abundance of flair and a minor reputation amid rumors of clashes with Nice boss Patrick Vieira.
When we say flair, we mean in fashion, as Magpies boss Steve Bruce quipped that the French dribblemaster has kept his head-spinning with looks around the training ground.
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But Saint-Maximin, 24, has been some kind of wonderful for Newcastle, earning admiration for his on-field play and off-field acument, with a social media account lighthearted enough to make a joke at the expense of rivals Sunderland’s expense but weighty enough to address racial issues.
Then came Saturday, when “Saint-Max” starred again and Newcastle lifting a surprising point from Anfield to finish the season with two draws versus the reigning Premier League champions.
Saint-Maximin completed 8-of-12 dribbles and got stuck into 24 duels for the upset-seeking visitors, putting his successful dribbles per 90 minutes at 5.09 this season, behind only Wolves’ Adama Traore.
His injury struggles this year still place Saint-Maximin’s 66 dribbles as the seventh-highest total in the league despite his playing 1,168 minutes. Each of the six players ahead of him have played a minimum of 904 more minutes.
After the game, Saint-Maximin read an admiring message from a rival fan that included a swipe at another player.
A Liverpool fan tagged the Newcastle in a Tweet (now removed) that read, “Can you come to Liverpool and Mane goes the other way?”
The Magpies star was not having it (which, oddly enough, will make Liverpool fans only like him more).
“I know you think it’s a nice message to me but I don’t like this,” Saint Maximin tweeted. “Be respectful to him please you are ungrateful, he did and he’s doing a lot for Liverpool, there still a long way before I could reach his level.”
Who knows how long Newcastle will be able to keep a hold of Saint-Maximin, who has attracted attention from around football but insured his club’s investment by signing a new deal in October?
Any way, he’s been a delight and one of the reasons to tune into Tyneside’s top club.