NEWCASTLE: Allan Saint-Maximin can achieve anything he wants in football, according to Eddie Howe — and the head coach believes he can do it all at Newcastle United.
The Frenchman’s time at United has been punctuated with constant links to other clubs, his rumored price tag, and talk of a Newcastle exit.
However, since the takeover by majority shareholder PIF, that talk has diminished. Saint-Maximin’s form, in contrast, has not.
The pacey, skillful forward was at his scintillating best in midweek as the Magpies saw off Frank Lampard’s Everton at St. James’ Park. And Saint-Maximin will be hoping to do the same this Sunday when Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho, and Aston Villa are in town.
Howe is of the firm belief that the world is very much at Saint-Maximin’s feet, and while his ambitions may be lofty, so too are Newcastle United’s.
On whether the club could hold onto the player, Howe said: “Absolutely. There is no intention from my side to lose Maxi. I have seen no indication from the player that his head is anywhere other than Newcastle and making sure he is committed to us in this position and elevating us from the position we find ourselves in.
“I see a player that loves playing in front of the supporters, is idolized by them. That is key for him. What we must do is find an edge to make his game better. Hopefully he is here for many, many years,” he added.
With the World Cup in Qatar looming large at the end of the year, most players have one eye on a possible international call up. The likes of Kieran Trippier will likely head to the tournament with England, but so far there has been no sniff of a call for Saint-Maximin.
However, Howe pointed out that the situation could change. “100 percent he can achieve that, without a doubt. And he can achieve that here,” he said of a possible international call by French manager Didier Deschamps. “He has got everything you’d want in his locker already.
“If you look at his performance the other day, his cross for the Ryan Fraser goal was excellent, as it looked like there was no space to get it over. His effort, attitude, and endeavor was first class — and if he can hit that consistently, what a player he could be.
“There is no doubt he has all the talent to do whatever he wants to do. But it is finding that on a consistent basis that is the challenge for all players of his type. It is not easy,” Howe added.
Similar to the mercurial talents of the likes of Faustino Asprilla, David Ginola, and Hatem Ben Arfa at Newcastle, managing these type of players takes a certain style — and Howe knows Saint-Maximin needs a different kind of treatment to others in order to get the best out of arguably the Premier League’s best dribbler.
Howe said: “With Maxi he is very individual, very unique, as a person and as a player.
“We have built a good relationship in a short space of time and getting to know him more will be good for me. We are always looking to add layers to his game, looking to help him improve. We want to take his game to another level by working with him. That is a never-ending process, as it is with all the players.
“I am excited by him every time he steps on the pitch. You never quite know what he will do, how he can win a game. He is a match-winner,” he added.