Allan Saint-Maximin: Newcastle United's Beautiful Peacock in a World of Magpies

Having sat through and endured Newcastle United's 3-1 victory over Burnley on Saturday evening, there remains only one thing left to say: Merci beaucoup, Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Frenchman is without doubt one of the ultimate entertainers in the Premier League, and even when his multicoloured feathers contrast jarringly against the drab, pale backdrop of Steve Bruce's defensive wall, he still glows that little bit brighter.

Saint-Maximin is a peacock, living in a world of magpies.

Newcastle versus Burnley will never be a fixture that entices the neutral, hence why it's put in the least appetising slot in the weekend's calendar. While everyone was out cramming as many pints into their system before 10pm as humanly possible, these two loyal fanbases were settling down for a tough, arduous night of football, destined to be separated by the finest of margins.

As it happened, that margin was fine indeed. And it came in the form of some bouncing locks, a headband every man can only secretly dream of pulling off so effectively, and the swagger of a superstar about to drop the hottest album of the year.

Saint-Maximin is the difference. He was signed by the Magpies to be the difference, and despite fears over his attitude or consistency upon his arrival over 12 months ago, he is more often than not, the difference.

Against a stodgy, resolute and frankly boring team like Burnley, you need a man in your ranks who thinks outside the box. A man who sees the answer while others are still reading the question. A man who doesn't say 'why?', but 'why not?'

And so, while the two sets of supporters were bracing themselves for a long 90 minutes ahead, ASM decided to flourish his hypnotic feathers to the world. The winger picked up the ball, took one look at his opponents - and probably had a little chuckle to himself.

"Time to have some fun."

Driving at the Clarets' defence, Saint-Maximin approached the edge of the penalty area and had a quick shot at goal. Only, he didn't. He dummied, sending three defenders sprawling and hitting the deck and the panic button. Now on his left foot, and with the opponents stumbling to their feet, the Frenchman arched to pull the trigger, but once again executed the perfect dummy.

All three defenders hit the floor with the same conviction as in the first trick. Prepared to put them out of their misery, he shaped back onto his right foot and drilled the ball into the corner of the net. Easy as you like.

The rest of his performance was equally fantastic. The ball remained glued to his feet for eternity, cast under his spell, while defenders were left in some sort of trance by his own witchcraft. The 23-year-old picked up a vital assist for the second goal, after his inferior teammates allowed Burnley back into the game, and Callum Wilson's penalty eventually wrapped up the points.

One thing is for sure: Saint-Maximin is far too good to be playing in this Newcastle side. Whether the Magpies invest in some shiny wrapping paper, glitter or sparkles, they simply can't dress it up. This team of plucky magpies pales in the presence of their beautiful peacock.

How long will he stay on Tyneside? That's a question no Geordie will want to hear, and they will shout to the heavens that he is now a cult hero, and will never experience such love from a fanbase as he does at St James' Park.

That may be true.

But it immediately transports me to a touching scene from the timeless film Shawshank Redemption, as prisoner Red contemplates life behind bars without his maverick best friend, Andy.

"I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone."

Enjoy him while he's here, everyone. Neutrals included. And if that means sitting through Bruce's turgid football to witness him in action, then that's a punishment this writer is willing to accept.

Source : 90min