Second-best in the PL: Newcastle man rated highly by Shearer standing out in two areas – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

Allan Saint-Maximin is so far proving a shrewd purchase and his stats would suggest that he is up there with the best in the Premier League.

On the chalkboard

Still only 22, there was a lot of pressure placed on the Frenchman’s shoulders when he arrived in the north-east, much of that due to his icreasing reputation in France, but mostly due to his transfer fee of £16.5m.

Despite some players often taking a while to adjust, Saint-Maximin hasn’t wasted any time in showing what he has to offer, and in recent games he has been key to Newcastle picking up points.

He may be goalless still, somehow, but his blistering pace and brilliant dribbling ability causes problems for most opponents, while he also had a big hand in DeAndre Yedlin’s equaliser against Bournemouth last week.

Such is his ability, he ranks joint-second in the Premier League for successful dribbles completed, with 3.6, a total level with Wolves’ Adama Traore, but short of Wilfried Zaha’s high standards.

To be in the company of such players is a credit to his confidence and his trickery, and if he keeps it up he will be a key outlet for the Magpies attack.

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End product

Saint-Maximin, like Miguel Almiron, has struggled to find the back of the net this season, and it’s not for a lack of trying.

In recent games he has had countless opportunities where it seemed easier to score than miss, but he continues to let himself down, and it could be of concern for Bruce if he wasn’t so effective in other areas of his game.

His skilfull dribbling ability allows him to take on the opposition with ease, often creating a lot of space for his teammates in the opposition’s half, and time and time again the former Nice player has been able to provide chances for those around him.

As a result, from open play he has made the second-most chances of any player outside of the ‘top-six’ clubs, with two per game, placing only behind Jack Grealish whose form has led to talk of an England call-up. That shows how good Saint-Maximin has been.

Often tricky wingers disappoint with their decision-making and final ball, but not the Frenchman. His all-round play has already made him a valuable member of the team, and won him plaudits from Alan Shearer, who included him in his Team of the Week not long ago.

If Saint-Maximin continues to play as he is, and get off the mark in terms of goals, then he will likely soon be a fan favourite at St James’ Park.

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