Allan Saint-Maximin has his doubters and of course, and rightly so, has his plaudits. His unique style of play and the ambitious tasks he sets for himself opens the floor up for debate, to which it has this season.
One thing that is not up for debate is his dribbling statistics, as he sits in the top 1% in Europe this season for dribbles completed, dribbles attempted and players dribbled past. Incredible numbers.
It is his end-product which sparks the debate, with 24 G/A in his 84 Premier League outings, it has a right to.
Saint-Maximin has in the past and recently made comments regarding the Ballon d’Or, stating that he thinks he has the ability to one day win the prestigious award. The ambition is brilliant to see, saying that, he has a lot of work to do to ensure his wish comes true.
Releasing the ball quickly is something the winger struggles with, which in some circumstances can work well, but in others not so much. Eddie Howe’s style of play is quick tempo passing to get his side up the pitch which does not fit Maximin’s style at all.
He averages 18 passes per 90 minutes this season, which sits him in the bottom 9% across Europes top five leagues. Which when watching him, is clear to predict. The ‘easy ball’ is never an option for the skilful Frenchman, as he only has eyes for running at defences, to which he sometimes does successfully but as of late, not so much.
The former Nice winger averages 1.94 progressive passes per 90 minutes, a progressive pass is a pass more than five yards towards the opposition goal. His 1.94 sits him in the bottom 14% across Europe.
This statistic is justified as more often than not, Saint-Maximin will attempt a dribble, realise there’s players swarming him and eventually pass it backwards. Which in the eyes of us fans, is suitable, as your side keeps possession, something Eddie is looking to improve on greatly, retaining the ball, controlling games. It’s a key element going forward for him.
Eddie Howe stated after the 1-0 Crystal Palace win in April that as soon as the game finished, he was analysing footage as to why his side could not retain the ball in the second-half and couldn’t keep it for a sustained period of time. It’s a part of the game he wants his side to master, which Saint-Maximin will have to adapt to if he wants a place in the team going forward.
Tracking back to assist his full-back has also always been an issue of his, to which this season it seems it is again as the Frenchman averages 0.19 tackles per 90 minutes this season, there is no winger or attacking midfielder across Europe with less.
Alan Shearer pointed it out on Match of the Day over the weekend when analysing Newcastle’s torrid display against Manchester City. “You can’t do that” Said Shearer, when looking at the wingers lack of defensive awareness of João Cancelo, which led to a goal.
With Maximin’s crosses at 2.2 per 90 minutes, his assists at 0.13 and his goals at 0.16, there is clear evidence that his end-product needs much development. Which at the age of 25-years-old, he has time on his side to develop these key components and maybe one day, and I emphasise ‘maybe’, winning the Ballon d’Or.
Let me know your thoughts.