Former England international Darren Bent has hailed Newcastle United winger Allan Saint-Maximin for his tormenting display against Manchester United last Sunday.
Saint-Maximin made his return to Steve Bruce’s starting line-up against the Red Devils following a hamstring injury (Shields Gazette), which had ruled the Frenchman out of Newcastle’s encounters with Watford and Liverpool before a brief return in the Toon’s draw with Brighton & Hove Albion (TransferMarkt).
Bruce had benched the £16.5million summer arrival from OGC Nice (BBC) for his side’s defeat at Leicester City in between outings against Brighton and Manchester United, but was minded to start the forward against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side for the pace and power the Magpies otherwise lack (Shields Gazette).
Bent has echoed that sentiment after Newcastle beat the Old Trafford natives 1-0 last weekend thanks to a goal struck by top-flight debutant Matty Longstaff, in which Saint-Maximin played a big part by penetrating the visitors’ defence to pave the way for the 19-year-old to score.
“For me, that game was all about Saint-Maximin,” Bent told Football Insider. “He was absolutely brilliant. He carried the fight from minute one, when he got that ball, drove forward and had a shot, he had Manchester United on the back foot.
“[Diogo] Dalot, they had to take him off because Saint-Maximin was absolutely destroying him. This guy, you talk about speed, power, pace, trickery – if I was a full-back, I wouldn’t want to play against him for the simple fact that I don’t think he knows what he wants to do.
“He was doing step over after step over after step over, arms are going everywhere.”
With Matt Ritchie likely out until November after undergoing a small operation on his ankle injury (Chronicle), Newcastle having Saint-Maximin back to such devastating effect against Manchester United will have come as a huge sigh of relief for Bruce and those at St. James’ Park.
Having the 22-year-old come through unscathed will have been an even bigger relief, though, as the Toon will need his pace, power and trickery again when they travel to Chelsea after the international break before Premier League encounters with Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Ham United that could go either way, with neither yet to have a consistent run of form.
But Saint-Maximin’s game against United was not perfect, as while he caused Dalot all kinds of issues, he also misplaced 41% of his 17 passes and had fewer touches than all but Joelinton, Miguel Almiron and Jamaal Lascelles of those who started for Newcastle (WhoScored).
Newcastle fans, was Saint-Maximin’s display against Manchester United the sort of performance you expect of your £16.5m man? Let us know in the comments below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more Newcastle notifications!