Allan Saint-Maximin has claimed he is as talented as Liverpool superstar Sadio Mane.
The Newcastle United winger has established himself as one of the most exciting players in the Premier League in the past three seasons.
But Saint-Maximin is more renowned for his dribbling skills and trickery than consistent end product in the final third.
In 2021-22, the 25-year-old has attempted (238) and completed (139) the most dribbles in the league.
However, Saint-Maximin has just five goals and four assists. He has not netted since a 1-1 draw with Watford in January, while his only assist in this calendar year came from a misplaced pass to Sean Longstaff that ran for Joelinton to score at Norwich City.
By contrast, Mane ranks 26th this season for dribble attempts (81, with 44 successful) but has scored 14 times, adding two assists.
Yet Saint-Maximin told So Foot: “Those who have played with me know very well that, in terms of pure quality, I have no reason to envy Sadio Mane.”
The former France youth international appears to believe his Newcastle team-mates are the problem.
Callum Wilson remains the Magpies’ top scorer with six goals despite being out injured since December, just this week returning to full training. Only Wolves (Raul Jimenez, also six) have had their leading marksman tally so few.
Chris Wood has netted twice since a £25million move in January, with Newcastle widely expected to invest heavily up front in the transfer window, having been linked with Darwin Nunez and Patrik Schick.
Saint-Maximin has created 45 chances from open play this term, the eighth-most in the league and most outside the top six.
“The day when I have a player capable of finishing the actions, I will make seasons with 10 to 15 assists,” he said. “I will change dimension in people’s heads.”
It is perhaps unsurprising Saint-Maximin has such lofty ambitions, given he cites Greek philosophers as his inspirations – along with NBA legend Michael Jordan.
“Doing things that make an impression, changing the rules, that’s the goal,” he said. “Like what Michael Jordan managed to do.
“Jordan, he changed some people’s lives, he gave people work, and that’s the beauty of it.”
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