The Geordie Flair Sets for Saudi Soil: Newcastle’s Saint-Maximin Transfers to Al Ahli
Newcastle United’s glittering winger Allan Saint-Maximin is set to adorn Saudi Pro League’s Al Ahli, having completed all necessary formalities for the impending transfer. Priced just shy of $30 million, the deal cements the 26-year-old’s move to the Arabian peninsula.
Saint-Maximin – A Magpie No More
Having been with the Toon Army since 2019, Saint-Maximin’s potential departure generated much speculation. His absence from the Newcastle squad during their pre-season triumph over Rangers added fuel to this whispering inferno, with the club’s head coach Eddie Howe finally revealing the player’s ongoing negotiations with an unidentified team.
“Allan has left the club on good terms, and carries with him our best wishes,” Howe stated, confirming the impending shift to Saudi Arabia. His standout performances and electric flair have left an indelible mark on the club, with his exit eliciting mixed emotions among the Geordies.
Controversy: A Companion to the Deal?
As reported by The Athletic, the move sparked numerous debates among Premier League clubs, primarily because it involves two teams under the same majority ownership – Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Under new UEFA rules, such a move between affiliated teams would be blocked, however, the transfer remains valid under Premier League guidelines. Still, a thorough check is performed for transactions exceeding £1 million to ensure they meet the ‘market value’ criterion.
English top-flight teams argue that this PIF link could artificially inflate Saint-Maximin’s transfer fee, potentially masking a capital injection under the guise of transfer expenditure. This would, they allege, provide Newcastle an easy route to comply with Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
The Deal and FFP – Newcastle’s Stance
Newcastle, however, remains confident in their valuation of Saint-Maximin. Coach Eddie Howe affirmed the club’s reluctance to part ways with the French wizard, but cited FFP regulations as the primary motivation behind the sale.
“Player trading is a key part of it — you can’t hit it if you don’t trade,” said Howe. “We’re forced to trade a player this window. If the deal didn’t go through, I’d be delighted. However, this would obviously impact our ability to bring in more players, and we might have to sell another player.”
Magpies’ New Faces – An Exciting Prospect
Meanwhile, the Tyneside club has been proactive in the transfer market, landing impressive signings like Sandro Tonali from AC Milan for €60 million, Leicester City’s Harvey Barnes for £38 million and youngster Yankuba Minteh from Odense for £6 million.
The club’s rigorous spending spree last season saw the arrival of Alexander Isak, Sven Botman, Matt Targett, Anthony Gordon, Nick Pope, and Harrison Ashby.
Such activity comes under the scrutiny of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules. These allow cumulative pre-tax losses of £105 million over three years. However, Newcastle’s recent Champions League qualification imposes UEFA’s stricter regulations, permitting only £25.4 million losses over a similar period.
With such dynamics in play, the fans eagerly await to see how the club’s transfer strategy pans out in the wake of Saint-Maximin’s departure to Saudi Arabia.