From St Etienne’s most hyped wonderkid in recent years, to AS Monaco, then being loaned to Hannover 96 and now, Bastia. It has been a rugged journey for Allan Saint-Maximin. Exuberant, flamboyant and hungry, yet rough and rogue couldn’t be a truer description for the Monaco loanee.
Saint-Maximin has always been gifted oozes of raw talent. Champion of Decathlon in Ile-de-France at 5 yrs old.; 3rd youngest to ever wear the green-tunic jersey of St Etienne at 16 yrs, 5 months and 17 days; 8 goals on debut in AC Boulougne at 10 yrs old and French U-17 Champion and U19 members at the age of 16 – it is definitely hard for many youngsters to top that portfolio.
Yet, there were always questions for outsiders about Saint-Maximin’s motor. The feud with St Etienne head coach Christopher Galtier and the motorbike incidents in Hannover rang alarms about a ‘troubled bonehead’ of a youngster. However, the perception seems to have drifted a bit too far.
A self-conscious and listening prodigy
Saint Maximin has always prefered a nurturing environment throughout his career, starting with his mother’s love and caring as stated by Allan himself, “If you wanna see a truly fulfilled Allan, I need this little emotional side. That’s not what keep me from playing or performing. It’s a big plus. I need it”
The need for nurturing got to the extend of career decison making. He rejected a yearly 100,000 euro salary from Paris Saint Germain to choose St Etienne because of the club’s educational value and ‘feeling at home’ after the 1st visit. And before this season, after two unfavorable stints in St Etienne and Hannover, Allan Saint Maximin made an unique decision. Not England’s Premier League teams (Watford, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough); not Lille, Rennes or even staying at AS Monaco – but SC Bastia, wanting to finally having game time, the spotlight and imititating his close friend Ousmane Dembele.
Luckily for Saint Maximin, he has received total supports from the managing boards , especially from Head Coach Francois Ciccolini. Against Maximin’s own statement about being the cornerstone of the team, there couldn’t be any more protective answer than one given from the SC Bastia head coach:
“I would like to come back to a statement by Allan Saint-Maximin where he said he felt that everything depended on him. I want to reassure him, I reviewed his statistics, there are 3 goals and 2 assists in 22 matches. So if he’s afraid of having too much pressure, I’d like to reassure him. He’s 19, I do not blame him. Maybe it’s our fault, that of the technical staff or the press to make him believe that.
Having all the love and nurture from SC Bastia, and the touted prodigy has finally stepped up to the spotlight.
Raw physical & technical abilities
Allan Saint Maximin radar – 16/17
The radar of Saint-Allan Maximin suggested a volume dribbler with limited end product. In comparison to Raheem Sterling’s 13/14 season which share similarities on dribbling style; it is actually surprising to see the Bastia youngster having more key passes, yet fewer assists.
Raheem Sterling radar – 13/14
Many previous coaches who has directly worked with Allan Saint-Maximin considered him ‘a perfectionist who always want to be the best’, yet it seems he tried a bit too much at times, especially on dribbling. Bertrand Rebours, who was in responsible for the AC Boulougne-Billancourt school of football addressed his concerns: “There may be three people in front of him, yet he will try something. He won’t be stopped”. It might be a red flag for having tunnel vision, but it also proved how dominant Saint-Maximin’s dribbling skill has been since childhood.
The case of Saint-Maximin’s dribbling style has always been interesting, as hardly anyone in Europe could simply ‘blow’ through players with stepovers and bursts of speed like the 19-year-old prodigy. His ball control looks raw and untamed, yet the dribbling is always swift and powerful (and more reliable after fixing his patchy form under Christopher Galtier’s spell). It looks a bit similar to Raheem Sterling’s dribbling form, yet the Englishman’s style looks swifter and more orthodox.
The signature move from any other sport that most closely resembles Saint-Maximin’s dribbling would be Allen Iverson’s crossovers; it was unique and refreshing seeing the way Maximin could throw his marker off guard, then burst through or beat his respective marker with elite change of pace. And stats definitely don’t lie, as he is the 3rd best dribbler in Europe (based on successful dribbles/game), with a crazy high successful rate of 70% (which is a lot more than sub-50% last season in Hannover).
Having such a lethal dribbling ability frequently equals to decent amount of chance created, and 1.85 key passes per game for Saint-Maximin is a encouraging number, considered SC Bastia is the 4th worst chance creating team in the league (8 per game).
Looking further at his passing, Saint-Maximin’s passing accuracy is neat (80%), yet within limited range (15m), which likely deter his possibility to play in the central midfield. Not having longer and more visionary passing would be a hindrance on his chance creating ability; however Saint Maximin has another weapon in his arsenal to offer – a powerful yet untamed shooting ability.
The shooting conversion may seems miserable at first look, being at 5.55% – however there has been at least 3 times the SC Bastia prodigy has hit the post throughout this season with unstoppable shots. His shots tend to be hit or miss at times, mostly when being forced, yet could be developed into a lethal weapon.
The recent consistency of Allan Saint-Maximin (especially after the red card vs Nancy) has been a blessing to watch after being moved closer to the central/half space area, playing as attacking midfielder/second striker. The stats have been amusing – : 6.5 successful dribbles (67% successful rate), 3.25 chance created, 83% passing accuracy. Goals and assists haven’t come yet, but the consistent threat is there
Apart from inconsistent shooting and limited passing range, his crossing has also left more to be desired. It has been competent at most, averaging 0.7 successful crosses per game with 20% successful ratio. Saint-Maximin also doesn’t seem to be a defensive-minded player, considering his low number of tackles (0.56) and interceptions (0.27) per game.
Saint Allan-Maximin hasn’t exactly set Ligue 1 on fire as he wanted, but it has been a promising season for the AS Monaco loanee. He might not be the highest ceiling player, and still won’t be a starter against tough talent like Bernando Silva, Kylian Mbappe or Thomas Lemar; yet the Parisian prodigy could hold on his own with his raw, explosive talent and high versatility, able to play every position in attack.
His speed burst and flamboyant dribbling could be efficiently used as a supersub wildcard, or on games reliant on counter-attack and fast transition. A focused and well-nurtured Saint-Maximin is an exciting prospect to look forward to in the future.