Bye-bye Almiron: NUFC should have got dream Saint-Maximin partner in £32.4m-rated gem – opinion

Newcastle could have signed the perfect partner in crime for Allan Saint-Maximin in Lille’s Jonathan Ikone.

What was the story?

Reports from France earlier in the summer suggested that both Newcastle and fellow Premier League side Tottenham had made enquiries for Ikone, and that he could have left Lille if a considerable bid had been made.

In the end, Ikone stayed put, with the Magpies completing a free transfer for Ryan Fraser, who had left Bournemouth after the expiration of his contract.

When you look at what Ikone could have brought to the table, however, there’s a real argument that he could have been the dream partner for Saint-Maximin.

Bye-bye Almiron

With his ability to play anywhere across the front-line, including on both flanks, Ikone would have comfortably fitted in well with Saint-Maximin, giving Newcastle boss Steve Bruce the option of deploying the duo at the same time.

Valued at £32.4m by Transfermarkt, the Frenchman is incredibly direct, either with the way he can drive forward or get his shot away. Last season, as per Whoscored, the 22-year-old averaged an impressive combination of 1.3 shots, 1.1 key passes and 2.6 dribbles per game.

Having Ikone on one wing and Saint-Maximin on the other could have seen Newcastle have a twin threat, and opposition defences wouldn’t have been able to double up on the latter and nullify the Magpies’ biggest danger.

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His arrival in the summer could also have been a hammer blow to Paraguay international Miguel Almiron. The former MLS ace has really struggled to hit the heights at St James’ Park, managing just nine goals in 61 games since joining.

If Ikone had made the switch to Tyneside, then Almiron may have been the one pushed to the side with even fewer opportunities to shine.

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