Kevin Phillips reckons Steve Bruce is ‘having talks’ with Allan Saint-Maximin in a bid to persuade the player to stay put.
According to The Mirror, former Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez has identified Saint-Maximin as his preferred replacement should Everton star Richarlison follow Carlo Ancelotti to Real Madrid.
Having committed him to a six-year contract as recently as October, Newcastle have apparently slappeed a £60million price-tag on the Frenchman.
But Saint-Maximin has ‘warned’ the club that they must be able to ‘match his ambitions’.
Last season, he scored three goals and provided four assists in 19 Premier League starts for the Magpies (via WhoScored).
The 24-year-old comfortably led the squad for completed dribbles per 90 with 3.8 (compared to 1.6 for nearest challenger Joe Willock).
Former Sunderland striker Phillips says Bruce will be ‘fighting’ to ensure Saint-Maximin’s head isn’t turned by the reported interest from Goodison Park because he’s a crucial asset to Newcastle.
“When you lose one of your best players it’s a big blow because it’s very difficult to replace them,” he told Football Insider.
“So Steve will be fighting in the background. I’m sure he’s having talks with him, trying to keep the player from Everton’s clutches and to keep him happy.
“But he has signed a new deal so the Newcastle fans will be hoping that he’ll stay.”
If anything, a £60million price tag seems a little generous. Saint-Maximin’s direct goal contribution numbers may not be spectacular, but his ability is there for all to see and he’d almost certainly go up a level at a side with more attacking intent.
With such a lengthy contract, Newcastle probably ought to make their demands even more prohibitive. A Richarlison sale to Real Madrid would put huge funds in Everton’s pocket too, all the more reason for the Magpies to play hard to get until they see an offer they simply can’t refuse.
The other possibility, of course, is that the club are being more realistic. With a ‘meagre’ transfer budget, perhaps they can’t rule out a mega-money sale as a means of investing more comprehensively in the rest of the squad.
In other news, read this key insight on Joe Willock’s potential move.
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