Foreign footballers have a tendency to do interviews in their home countries or at least with their home country press during the season, often during an international break. Such interviews can sometimes contain the odd nugget of info that we as fans enjoy but more often than not, there’s something in them about frustration at lack of playing time or potential future moves away from their respective club. Such talk isn’t ideal but it seems now to be part and parcel – for Newcastle fans it was a regular occurrence in the days of Sissoko and Cabaye.

Allan Saint-Maximin however has taken it a step further and his latest interview with French publication So Foot will do nothing to warm the hearts of supporters who have grown frustrated with him in recent weeks. That said, fan reactions will be nothing compared to what his teammates back at Benton might be thinking or feeling.

“The day I have players capable of finishing the actions, I will make a season with 10-15 assists”

Whilst he may have a point, there is absolutely no need at all to make that point in public, particularly at a time when he is struggling to find any kind of meaningful form himself. Would he have more assist if Wilson hadn’t been out injured all year? Yes. Would he have more assists if Murphy wasn’t so hell bent of hitting the post? Yes. Would he have more assists if Wood was more prolific in front of goal? Probably, but Saint-Maximin’s overall contribution would be far better if he lifted his head once in a while, stopped throwing himself to the ground when he feels the breath of a defender on the back of his neck and stopped dribbling into nothingness so bloody often.

There’s no doubt at all that he’s a talented player and I truly believe that we survived in the Premier League under Bruce due to him and Dubravka but times have changed – it’s no longer just a case of “pass to Maxi”. It’s clear to see that he’s been struggling for form recently and still doesn’t look 100% since his illness that saw him miss the Southampton game. Whetherthe issue is fitness or confidence, I’m not so sure but I’m inclined to think Howe wouldn’t start him if he wasn’t fully fit. He’s started 28 games this season, scored 5 goals and assisted with a further 4 but the majority assists came when Bruce was still here. Since Howe arrived, ASM has assisted only 1 goal which came against Norwich very recently. It begs the question then, is he able to play in this Newcastle side under Howe or does he only flourish when he’s the brightest spark in an otherwise dull team?

I actually think with Maxi in this team and under Howe there is a sweet spot to hit, a sweet spot we haven’t quite found yet. ASM has created the most chances of any player outside the top 6 this season, he’s a dangerous player who will benefit from having better quality around him. That said, I do think he has been found out a little in the second half of the season. He’ll pick the ball up, set himself and dribble but the opposition simply crowd him out and he can’t cope with that. Every time he gets the ball, 2-3 players are round him in seconds and invariably, the attack breaks down as he’s either tackled or forced to make a poor pass which ends up being intercepted. There is now some work to do to get him back to his best – we need to figure out how best to utilise him and he needs to realise that dribbling can only be part of his game now.

It’s a huge summer for Newcastle but Saint-Maximin can’t under estimate the importance of his summer and pre-season either. If he’s not careful, he could get left behind as the team get stronger and better in every area of the pitch. There could be a day sooner rather than later when we just don’t need Maxi and he’ll be another case of what could have been. Remember Dyer, Jenas and more recently Sissoko – players who believed their own hype and ended up amounting to very little.

I hope he gets the chance to prove himself at a rejuvenated Newcastle Untied next season because apart from anything else, when he’s on his game he’s just fantastic to watch. Not to mention I think he deserves it – he’s been here for nearly 3 years and aside from the last 8 months, there really hasn’t been anything to get excited about for fans and players alike. He’s won us games, entertained when the thought of watching MOTD was just depressing and he’s built up a great relationship with fans. I want it to work for him and for us but his focus is needed. Stop the petulant arms in air moments and get on with the job at hand. The dribbles, the headbands, the hairstyles and the dances mean very little in the Premier League, his attitude and contribution will be what makes him or breaks him for Newcastle. He could do a lot worse than look to Joelinton as an example of a player who works tirelessly for the team to improve himself whilst never once looking to push the blame for his form elsewhere.

It’ll be interesting to see the reaction to the comments he’s made. Not from twitter but from him, Howe and the club. Suggesting your teammates aren’t capable is inexcusable and he deserves to be reprimanded but suggesting you have “nothing to envy from Sadio Mane” does make you wonder if he’d benefit from being brought back down to earth with a loud and very heavy bump. Either that or he needs to watch more videos of Mane and less of himself.

Rus Trevethick – Twitter: Rus8410