Steve Bruce has challenged Allan Saint-Maximin to write himself into Newcastle’s history as he attempts to climb on to David Ginola’s pedestal.
The 23-year-old Frenchman signed a new and improved six-year contract this week after a thrilling first year or so in England, and later spoke of attempting to follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Ginola, who enjoyed a glittering two seasons at St James’ Park which established him as a cult hero on Tyneside.
Saint-Maximin’s brand of football has already endeared him to the Toon Army and head coach Bruce is convinced there is more to come.
The 59-year-old, who will send his side into battle with Manchester United on Saturday evening, said: “Well, there’s one thing that we’re not going to deny: he’s got the ability.
“He’s done well enough for the club to reward him with a new six-year deal, now the next step for him is to go and really be part of the history of this great club of ours.
“Can he be a David Ginola? He can be anything he wants to be, let’s be brutally honest, he can be anything he wants to be.
“I hope in time that little bit of maturity, which will surely come one day… and yet, you’ve got to still have that maverick in him which makes him the player that he is.
“He does things which are just off the radar. I wish we had it on tape – he scored a goal in training the other day which was just ludicrous how good it was, I think we all applauded.
“We know what he’s got in terms of ability, it’s the next step up, that maturity that surely will come to him, and then he’s got the world at his feet.”
Saint-Maximin and his team-mates face a wounded United this weekend as the visitors attempt to bounce back from a 6-1 mauling by Tottenham at Old Trafford last time out.
And Bruce, who made more than 400 appearances for the Red Devils, is wary of a backlash.
He said: “I always fear when they’ve had a bad result because usually they come out all guns blazing, and that backlash is what we’ve got to be wary of.
“They will be disappointed I am sure, and the one way to get over a bad result is the next game and they have got us next time up, so we have to be ready for that and ready for the challenge.”