Enigmatic French winger Allan Saint-Maximin is set to start for Newcastle at Leicester on Sunday, in what the Sunderland Echo claim is a “surprise” recall. Surprise recall? Really?
According to the Daily Star, Miguel Almiron could be dropped for the trip to the King Power Stadium, with Saint-Maximin taking his place.
I would say it is no surprise to any Newcastle supporter, for a number of reasons.
Miguel Almiron has struggled
Anyone who has watched the games so far this season will have seen the struggles of Almiron.
He has an abundance of talent and pace, and I have no doubt he will still prove to be an asset for Newcastle.
But he is blatantly being weighed down by not scoring, and the pressure for him to do so is affecting his game.
Bringing Saint-Maximin in to replace him is a no-brainer, and using Almiron as an impact substitute is the most likely way for the Paraguayan to get his elusive goal.
Saint-Maximin sparked a dour game to life last week
Last weekend’s goalless draw with Brighton was a dour affair – for over three quarters of it anyway.
When Saint-Maximin was introduced, the whole momentum shifted. The crowd got involved, and from that point, there only looked like one winner – and unlike the previous 72 minutes, it was not going to be the visitors.
He provided the spark that lit up everyone inside St James’ Park – both on and off the pitch.
There would have been an outcry if he declared himself fit and he did not start.
You do not sign a £16.5m winger and not start him
When the Frenchman signed for Newcastle, fans just knew he was going to give them something different – whether it was from watching him on YouTube, or just listening to him oozing self-confidence.
Newcastle are not going to fork out £16.5 million on a winger – and that was a bargain price the club negotiated – to leave him on the bench week after week.
Fans could, of course, point to the fact that the player he is likely to replace, Miguel Almiron, actually cost £20 million and will be dropping to the bench.
But the cases are different. Almiron has had chances in the side, and is clearly suffering a confidence crisis, and his form has dipped, mainly because of the lack of a goal circumstances.
His time will come again, but Saint-Maximin’s time is now. So it is hardly a “surprise” recall for the Frenchman at all.