Newcastle risk losing popular attacker from pre-PIF era as AC Milan expand Rafael Leao replacement shortlist

Allan Saint-Maximin being replaced by Miguel Almiron Credit: Alamy
Allan Saint-Maximin being replaced by Miguel Almiron Credit: Alamy

A Newcastle United attacker who has been with the club since before their Saudi-backed ownership took charge could leave after becoming a target for AC Milan, according to reports.

Eddie Howe has several options available to him across his attack at present. At centre-forward, he can deploy either Alexander Isak or Callum Wilson. On the wings, he has the likes of Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin, Ryan Fraser and Jacob Murphy at his disposal.

There was recently one departure from the Newcastle attack, though. Chris Wood has gone to Nottingham Forest on loan with an obligation for a permanent deal, depending on certain conditions.

And Wood might not be the only forward to make way from St. James’ Park. Reports in Italy are now warning the Magpies that they will have to brace themselves for interest in Saint-Maximin as well.

The Frenchman has been with Newcastle since the summer of 2019, two years before the takeover led by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) went through.

Prior to the takeover, Saint-Maximin stood out as a source of inspiration for a struggling Newcastle side. Now, he is part of a more competitive squad.

Gametime has been hard to come by for Saint-Maximin this season due to injury issues. He has only started four Premier League matches all season, despite managing 15 appearances in all competitions.

From his 12 league outings, he has contributed one goal and three assists. His all-time tally for Newcastle stands at 108 appearances, 13 goals and 19 assists.

However, there is now a risk of him being lured away. There have been suggestions of interest from Tottenham, for example. But according to Tuttomercatoweb, Saint-Maximin is on AC Milan’s shortlist too.

AC Milan move would deprive Newcastle

The Serie A champions are looking at potential replacements for Rafael Leao. The Portugal international will be out of contract in 2024 and has been linked with some Premier League clubs.

Currently, Milan are trying to sign Tottenham target Nicolo Zaniolo from Roma. But in case they can’t complete that deal – since they are currently only offering a loan-to-buy formula, which doesn’t satisfy the sellers – they have identified Saint-Maximin as someone else worth investing in.

The report does not mention how much Milan may be willing to bid for Saint-Maximin. But as a winger who mainly plays on the left, he would be a direct replacement for Leao.

Saint-Maximin has never played in Serie A before, nor has he ever featured in the Champions League beyond the qualification rounds.

But after playing in the top flights of France, Germany and England, he should have enough experience to adjust to a new environment in Italy.

It would be a blow for Newcastle to lose him, though, especially when they are chasing European qualification for themselves.

Hence, Howe should try to keep Saint-Maximin at his disposal, especially with him getting back towards full fitness. While some feel Newcastle might drop off from their current place in the top four over the second half of the season, the reintegration of the former Nice man might give them a timely boost.

Saint-Maximin remains under contract on Tyneside until 2026.

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