How Allan Saint-Maximin responded to £50m Newcastle United exit talk versus Wolves

Allan Saint-Maximin’s future at Newcastle United has been up for debate recently - but now is not the right time.

Allan Saint-Maximin might have been a few yards off his best against Wolverhampton Wanderers - but it isn’t through a lack of trying.

And it’d be unfair to say he didn’t play his part in the 1-0 victory on Friday night, which lifted Newcastle United 10 points above the Premier League relegation zone.

Since his £16.5million arrival from Nice in August 2019, the Frenchman is the person the Magpies have relied upon the most in their several moments of need.

Clearly, that reliance has become less heavy under Eddie Howe, particularly in recent months, and perhaps that is partly the reason why his future at St James’ Park is such a strong debate at present.

Rumours last week even stretched as far as to say Newcastle would be willing to cash in on the winger for £50million this summer.

Howe, of course, rubbished that was ever the case, insisting the 25-year-old has a long-term future at the club.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Maxi,” Howe said before the Wolves games. “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’s an incredible talent and yes, of course he has a long-term future at the club.”

Saint-Maximin is undoubtedly going through the toughest period of his Newcastle career, and it’s very apparent he’s struggled to ignore what’s being said on social media.

“People forget quickly, but I know what to do to restore their memory”, Saint-Maximin posted on Instagram during the 16-day break.

The winger, prior to the international break, had been hit with a calf injury and illness, forcing him to miss three out of six games.

And he was so short of fitness that Saint-Maximin went almost two months without starting a game until his return against Tottenham Hotspur.

Still re-building his fitness, he retained his place for the visit of Wolves and whilst he hasn’t been at his maverick best, you can’t fault his willingness.

Against Wolves, there were glimpses of quality. Saint-Maximin arguably changed the momentum of the game just after the hour-mark.

Bruno Lage’s side controlled the beginning of the second-half up until the Frenchman beat his man on the right and then flashed a low delivery across goal that Chris Wood so nearly slid home.

Moments before, Saint-Maximin, admittedly, should have opened the scoring when he blazed over Bruno Guimaraes’ cross but he made up for that with a lovely flick to Joelinton, who played in Wood before he was taken out by Jose Sa.

In the closing stages, Saint-Maximin was the focal point of the attack, fighting through the fatigue barrier to carry the ball up the pitch and relieve pressure on his defensive teammates.

Howe, after the game, summed his display up rather nicely.

“I’d say, with the length of time that Maxi’s been out, and training that he’s missed, he’s probably needed the two games that we’ve had.

“There’s no lack of effort from Maxi. He gave everything for the team. I thought he maxed out physically. I think that will help him get to his best.

“He decides games. I think he’s got those moments in him. I thought the move for the penalty was really good.

“He had a few chances, which was pleasing to see him in goalscoring areas, which is something he’s working on with him. Despite the fact he didn’t take any of those chances, it was great to see. Positive signs for Maxi.”

Yes, there were points where he lost the ball. And yes, Wolves piled bodies around him. But let’s not essentially write off a player who was often the beacon of light under the gloomy times of Steve Bruce and Mike Ashley.

Seven games to go this season, those doubting Saint-Maximin shouldn’t yet. For the many times the winger has been unplayable for the football club, it is time his critics online - and on the terraces - repay that with love and patience.