Paul Merson believes Allan Saint-Maximin is too quick for his own good at times – feeling the Frenchman’s pace and unpredictability doesn’t always help his NUFC teammates.
During their chat on Gillette Soccer Saturday over the weekend, Dion Dublin has also compared him to Wolves star Adama Traore before his breakthrough season – saying he’s explosive but unreliable in the final third.
Here’s what the Sky Sports pundits had to say following his man of the match display at Southampton, starting with the thoughts of Merson:
“100% they need him.
“It is hard because sometimes even he doesn’t know what he is going to do.
“I don’t mean that horribly but it is really off the cuff.
“He has so much pace I think sometimes they struggle to keep up with him.
“They play counter-attacking football but when he gets the ball, beats one or two players and he is away, he looks up and there is nobody in the box because they can’t keep up with his pace.
“But you have got to keep those three up front.
“I think Newcastle will be all right because they will be hot in at least three games before the end of the season.
“I don’t worry about them because they have pace and X Factor up front.”
He makes a fair point, although I’ve often felt he’s been on his own in the final third this season because our set up was too negative, leaving the likes of him, Joelinton (who’s not good at getting into the box) and Almiron far too isolated.
That said, his unpredictability and obsession with beating his man has sometimes made it hard for his teammates, with it being difficult to know when and where he’s going to release the ball when he gets his head down.
Here’s what Dublin then had to say, revealing the current Premier League player he reminds him of:
“He is actually playing now like Traore at Wolves was playing a couple of seasons ago. You never knew what he was going to do in the final third but now he has been coached, he is doing things better, scoring goals and making better decisions.
“If Brucey gets hold of this young lad and really coaches them well he could be an absolute nightmare for defenders.”
While ASM’s final ball and decision making where it matters does need to improve, I think it’s unfair to compare him to the Traore we saw a few seasons ago – who really was pace and power with so little end product.
With Saint-Maximin, his numbers of 3 goals and 4 assists in 21 appearances for Newcastle United highlights where he needs to improve, but Steve Bruce certainly has a HECK of a lot to work with!
Based on his pace, skill and explosive talent, only bad coaching and the wrong attitude can stop ASM becoming a real star.