Newcastle reaction shared as furious clubs line up to complain about £120m transfer ‘disguise’

Matt Stead
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe smiles
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe is not bothered

Newcastle are unperturbed by reports of their Premier League rivals joining up to complain to the Premier League about the £30m sale of Allan Saint-Maximin.

Saint-Maximin is expected to leave the Magpies this summer to join Al-Ahli, one of the four Saudi Pro League clubs taken over by the same Public Investment Fund which owns Newcastle.

The proposed £30m transfer has subsequently raised eyebrows as two clubs under the same majority ownership do business in the market.

READ MOREThe specifics of Saint-Maximin’s Newcastle exit are strange, and Howe sob story doesn’t help

David Ornstein of The Athletic reports that ‘several English top-flight teams’ are planning to bring their concerns to the Premier League in search of clarity over the situation.

They fear that Newcastle are using their PIF links to ‘inflate’ Saint-Maximin’s transfer fee and ‘disguise an injection of capital’, which would subsequently free the Magpies up to sign Harvey Barnes for £38m.

Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin

Newcastle United’s Allan Saint-Maximin

Eddie Howe has already spoken publicly on the situation, saying: “I wouldn’t say it’s been forced upon us, but I think with Financial Fair Play it’s been forced upon us to a degree.

“We could make a stance to not sell Maxi,” he added, “but then we wouldn’t be in a position where we could recruit Sandro [Tonali], so our hands would’ve been tied.

“We knew this summer that we had to trade and it looks like it will happen, but we don’t know.

READ MOREIf Newcastle are trying to cheat FFP with ASM sale to Saudi, they’re doing it wrong

“That’s how FFP works. We understand that. 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.”

Premier League regulations state that any transfer over £1m must be independently assessed to ensure they do not surpass ‘market value’.

The complaining clubs, according to Ornstein, ‘will ask the division to explain how it establishes market value in such situations and – having expressed similar dissatisfaction over commercial agreements – want greater scrutiny and transparency around the process.’

Newcastle are described as ‘very comfortable’ with the price tag they have placed on Saint-Maximin, who has scored 13 goals and assisted 21 in 124 games since joining for £16.5m from Nice in August 2019.

They might also point out that a fair few other clubs have taken advantage of the Middle East money; Chelsea got £17m for Kalidou Koulibaly FFS.

No other club has even vaguely been linked with signing Saint-Maximin for £30m, it should perhaps be pointed out.

Newcastle are also interested in signing defender Tino Livramento, with a £30m bid reportedly being rejected by Southampton.

The relegated Saints are thought to value the Chelsea academy graduate at closer to £50m, so Jeff Hendrick can pack his bags and get ready for a £100m move to Al-Nassr.