Newcastle United star Allan Saint-Maximin joining Saudi Pro League?

Newcastle United star Allan Saint-Maximin joining Saudi Pro League?
Maximin was not in the squad who beat Rangers and will not fly to the US for the club’s pre-season tour. (AFP)
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Updated 11 August 2023

Newcastle United star Allan Saint-Maximin joining Saudi Pro League?

Newcastle United star Allan Saint-Maximin joining Saudi Pro League?
  • Talks with ‘another club,’ says Magpies’ coach Eddie Howe
  • It appears Al-Ahli looking to sign Frenchman for $30m

GLASGOW: Newcastle United star Allan Saint-Maximin is edging closer to signing for “another club,” according to the Magpies’ head coach Eddie Howe, which is understood to be in Saudi Arabia.

The enigmatic Frenchman was left out of the Newcastle squad that beat Rangers on Tuesday evening and will not fly to the US for the club’s pre-season tour. It is understood that Saudi Pro League side Al-Ahli are in talks with Newcastle about a deal, that could net the Magpies around $30 million.

And Howe hopes the move will further unlock Newcastle’s summer transfer activity, with Premier League Financial Fair Play regulations causing a deal logjam in recent weeks.

“Allan is in discussions regarding a move to another club. Nothing is confirmed, nothing is done, it’s still at the early stages, but that is why he wasn’t here today,” said Howe post-match.

“There’s no immediate plans for him to join us tomorrow (to the US), but we’ll wait and see. These things can change and he could end up with us again, and if that is the case, then we’d love to welcome him back.”

Howe, who is looking to tie down a deal for England international Harvey Barnes as a replacement, continued: “With Financial Fair Play you sort of have to trade otherwise for us this summer we would have been stuck in a position where we couldn’t recruit players the other way. That’s how Financial Fair Play works so we understand that.

“Maxi is a top player, we definitely don’t want to lose him, we wanted to strengthen the group but sometimes these things happen and we have to accept that.

“It’s too early to speak about Maxi in the past tense at Newcastle but certainly my respect and love for him is probably the same as the supporters. The supporters love him, we love him but if he does go it’ll be a really difficult moment for all of us.”

Invited up for the testimonial of Rangers’ and Scotland’s legend Allan McGregor, Newcastle ran out 2-1 winners at their potential Champions League foes.

The club’s only major, first-team signing of the summer to date, Sandro Tonali made his full debut from the off, as the Magpies’ international contingent returned from an extended summer break.

And the Italian, a $70 million signing from AC Milan, had a hand in the opener on the night. A zipped pass into Elliot Anderson set the Geordie free to maraud. Anderson then slid into the path of Miguel Almiron, who rolled in past McGregor.

In an encounter that very much resembled attack versus defense, the Magpies dominated proceedings in the opening 45 and but for some resolute defending should easily have added to their one-goal advantage.

When you do not capitalize, however, things can change very quickly in football and after a raft of changes for both sides, the Gers looked a different unit as the game wore on.

And they grabbed an equalizer when a Karl Darlow error, placing a pass into Bruno Guimaraes under pressure, was jumped on by Sam Lammers, who tucked in past the red-faced, substitute goalkeeper.

Having dominated, it would have been remiss of Newcastle not to have the final say, and sub Alexander Isak turned Johnly Yfeko inside out before digging out a cross on to the head of Harrison Ashby for the winner, with just four minutes to play.

With two wins out of two, the Magpies now head to the US for the Premier League Summer Series, where Aston Villa, Chelsea and Brighton and Hove Albion await them in Philadelphia, Atlanta and New Jersey.

Howe hopes to have the Barnes deal done so he can join the squad in the US.

“It doesn’t change our situation massively,” he said of any deal for Saint-Maximin. “But this has enabled us to recruit Sandro and hopefully a couple more players. But who knows.”