NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has issued a hands off warning to clubs looking to sign Allan Saint-Maximin this summer.
Various newspaper reports have stated the player will be made available by the Magpies in the next transfer window, despite enjoying his most impressive campaign to date on Tyneside in terms of assists and goals.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, who Newcastle saw off 1-0 at St James’ Park on Friday, as well as Everton, are credited with interest in the Frenchman, a fan favorite at Newcastle, with an asking price in the region of $78 million said to be quoted.
However, Howe has made it clear he has no intention of letting a player of Saint-Maximin’s quality leave the Magpies this summer — and he’s urged fans to not believe everything they read in the press about the former AS Monaco player.
“Don’t always believe what you read in the papers, although that’s difficult for you guys,” Howe told gathered members of the press on Tyneside. “I’ve got a great relationship with Maxi, I’ve really enjoyed working with him.”
“For me, if you look between now and the end of the season, we need Maxi at his very best levels, he could potentially be the difference between us staying in the league,” he said. “He’s an incredible talent and yes, of course he has a long-term future at the club.”
Saint-Maximin has scored five goals for United this campaign, having only managed to net seven in his first two seasons at the football club.
His early season form though, has taken a considerable dip of late, with illness and injury taking its toll. The forward missed a chunk of February with a calf problem, while making only brief appearances off the bench in March before a return to the first team in April at Tottenham Hotspur.
Meanwhile, Howe has claimed the changes at Newcastle have not been as “dramatic” as many would think, despite the new owners having hold of the club for more than six months.
Howe was the first major appointment of the Public Investment Fund era at St James’ Park — and while he has noticed alterations around the place, he thinks the major changes are really yet to come at Newcastle.
“There have been subtle changes,” he said.
“Because we are in the middle of the season and we are so involved with the team and the players we have, the way we want to play, that has taken most of my energy.
“Building the club and improving the infrastructure that is going to come another day. There have been subtle changes rather than dramatic changes.”
Elsewhere, Australian Jarred Gillett has been named as the referee for Sunday’s visit of European football-chasing Leicester City.
The former A-League and Saudi Professional League referee will take charge of his second United game of the campaign, having officiated the 1-1 draw at Watford earlier this season.
Gillett will be assisted by Dan Cook and James Mainwaring, with Martin Atkinson the fourth official. Lee Mason will be on VAR duty, supported by Wade Smith.