Speaking to Football Insider, former Coventry City striker Noel Whelan believes that Allan Saint-Maximin should replace Joelinton as Newcastle United’s main centre-forward – arguing that the Frenchman’s pace would cause opposition defences a lot of problems.
Whelan, who bagged 31 league goals over 127 starts for the Sky Blues during the mid-1990s to early 2000s (SoccerBase), has since gone on to draw up a debatable theory that Saint-Maximin would be a better option out of his usual position in the centre-forward role than Joelinton – with the Englishman not quite sure what he brings to the table on Tyneside. Since signing for a club-record £40 million last summer, Joelinton has managed just one Premier League goal – coming way back in August 2019 during a 1-0 victory at Spurs. By comparison, winger Saint-Maximin has hardly managed to better that return – scoring just once himself while managing fewer assists than his out-of-form teammate.
However, according to WhoScored.com, the Frenchman beats Joelinton in almost every other offensive aspect – racking up more efforts on goal (1.7), key passes (1.3) and a far superior rate of completed dribbles (4.5). With that in mind, Whelan now thinks that it is high time for manager Steve Bruce to play Saint-Maximin up top in a bid to potentially wreak havoc.
“Saint-Maximin is the one that looks the most dangerous in that side,” explained the pundit to Football Insider.
“You need to take Joelinton out of there and bang him through the middle – hurt people with his pace. Something a little bit different because I look at Joelinton and I am not sure what he is giving them.
“What is he going to provide that is going to get them further up the table? I cannot see him hitting 20 goals a season for them.
“They need a hungry player with desire. You need to be busting your gut to get into the box and he was not.”
Indeed, when looking at the stats, Saint-Maximin could be a better option through the middle – with the 22-year-old’s pace seeming frightening at times as well as his proficiency to cause problems.
Whether or not Bruce intends to try this tactic remains to be seen, but if the numbers are anything to go by, there couldn’t be much harm in experimenting.
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