HomeFeatured ArticlesThe Premier League Probes Saint-Maximin's £30m Saudi Move

The Premier League Probes Saint-Maximin’s £30m Saudi Move

Newcastle United’s Allan Saint-Maximin Caught in a £30m Storm

A Controversial Transfer

Stirring the still waters of the Premier League, Newcastle United’s French winger, Allan Saint-Maximin, is at the heart of a brewing storm. The player’s £30 million ($38.6m) proposed transfer to Saudi Pro League’s Al Ahli is facing robust scrutiny from several clubs within the English top-flight.

This transaction has the unique caveat of involving two clubs – Newcastle United and Al Ahli – that share the same majority ownership, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). David Ornstein of The Athletic has reported on this.

The Question of Market Value

Premier League regulations stipulate that any transaction exceeding the cost of £1 million, irrespective of the parties involved, must not surpass the so-called “market value.” This controversial transfer has several clubs challenging these rules, citing that the PIF link might be an ingenious tactic to inflate Saint-Maximin’s ostensible fee. The underlying concern is that the capital injection is masquerading as a transfer fee, enabling Newcastle United to adhere to financial fair play rules.

Clubs are now clamouring for more transparency and stricter scrutiny around this process. They want the league to clarify its methodology in determining market value, especially in similar scenarios.

Newcastle United’s Stance

Newcastle United, however, remains unperturbed by the criticisms and are confident of their valuation of 26-year-old Saint-Maximin. Following their takeover in October 2021, the league sanctioned the move after receiving “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not have direct control of the club.

The PIF now owns 80% of Newcastle, while Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben family each hold a 10% stake. In June, Saudi Arabia announced the PIF would also take a 75% stake in four founding members of its Pro League.

The Allure of the SPL

This majority stake by PIF in the Saudi Pro League has seen a surge of high-profile players like Karim Benzema, Roberto Firmino, and N’Golo Kante making a move. Even Cristiano Ronaldo made the headlines with his transfer to Al Nassr in January.

David Ornstein, reporting in The Athletic, disclosed that Saint-Maximin was also in talks with Al Ahli regarding a potential move.

The UEFA Hurdle

If Al Ahli were affiliated with UEFA, the current scenario would be avoided owing to new multi-club ownership rules. However, Newcastle’s head coach, Eddie Howe, has confirmed that Saint-Maximin is indeed in talks for a transfer.

Howe stated, “Allan is in discussions regarding a move to another club. Nothing is confirmed, nothing is done. But that’s why he wasn’t here today. With Financial Fair Play you have to trade. For us, we were stuck in a position where we could not trade players the other way. Maxi is a top player and we definitely don’t want to lose him we want to strengthen the group. Sometimes these things happen and we have to accept that.”

As the scenario unfolds, it remains to be seen what turn Saint-Maximin’s future takes in this stormy narrative.

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