RIYADH: Newcastle United star Allan Saint-Maximin is ready to rebuff the increasing advances of Champions League rivals Tottenham Hotspur because he has finally found a club that really feels like home.
The Frenchman was one of Antonio Conte’s primary targets in the summer transfer window, and despite an up-and-down campaign so far, which has contained just four Premier League starts, the player admits he could not be happier at St. James’ Park.
Saint-Maximin had only ever shown flashes of brilliance in his early career prior to his near $20 million move back in 2019.
Spells at the likes of Nice, Bastia and Monaco brought little love for Saint-Maximin, who is undoubtedly adored by the Geordie public, especially for his ability to get fans off their feet.
But now, finally, he knows home is where the heart is.
“It’s very nice. It’s like finding your first house,” he said of being at Newcastle United.
“It’s like when you have found a very nice house and you know what you are going to build. You start to see the potential there and you are like, ‘Wow, this is huge.’ That is a great example because I really feel at home here.”
Comparing the ownership of the Public Investment Fund to former custodian Mike Ashley, of the Sports Direct clothing empire, the 25-year-old said: “This is a different place now. There are a lot of beautiful houses in the world now but there are some houses where you put your feet and think ‘Here is my home.’
“It’s the feeling I have in Newcastle. I am very proud because...when you work very hard, you start to see everything change.
“Especially when you have the choice to go to another club. You just say, ‘No, I will believe until the end at this club.’
“I want to give back the love they give me…I will always be a Newcastle fan, I love the club so much.”
Saint-Maximin follows in a long line of enigmatic, crowd-pleasing Gallic talents to grace the fields of Tyneside, with the likes of Laurent Robert, Hatem Ben Arfa and David Ginola remembered with fondness by those who witnessed their swagger in black and white.
It is a line of succession, and Saint-Maximin is in no mood to give up any time soon.
“I will try to do my best,” he said of emulating those who have gone before him.
“There are many legends. You talk about French players (Robert and Ginola). There are English players as well like Alan Shearer.
“Everywhere I go, I want to be the best. I try to change things in my life and with my mentality. I work even harder than before. I am sure if I keep thinking like that and try to fight for my teammates, many good things can happen.”
One player who has arguably restricted Saint-Maximin’s game time this campaign has been Miguel Almiron. The Paraguayan has netted eight goals in the Premier League and has been Newcastle’s surprise package of the campaign so far.
And while many a player may well begrudge the success of a forward rival, Saint-Maximin has shared his absolute delight at the player’s unexpected success— although there is nothing unexpected about it in his eyes.
Saint-Maximin said: “Miggy has always been a great player. He is an incredible guy but a great player.
“When you play and touch the ball less and the team doesn’t play well, it’s much more difficult to shine. It is more difficult to show your quality.
“You see people saying Miggy is a new player. He’s not a new player. He has always been a great player.
“I want to be on the pitch with him, to help him, make assists and have the best season possible for him.
“He deserves that. It’s the type of mentality every player should have. I am sure every player will help us to be where we need to be.”
On Thursday evening, Newcastle United lifted the Diriyah Season Cup with a 5-0 win over Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal.
Almiron netted twice along with Joelinton while Dylan Stephenson netted the Magpies’ fifth at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium.
Newcastle are next in action on Saturday, Dec. 17, when they take on Rayo Valladolid at St. James’ Park prior to the return to domestic football against Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup on Dec. 23.