Watford are stepping up their efforts to present Newcastle with Premier League competition in the race for OGC Nice winger Allan Saint-Maximin, according to France Football.
The Hornets are thought to have now placed themselves strongly at the front of the queue chasing the French forward, after meeting with the player’s representatives.
The discussions are said to have convinced Vicarage Road executives that Saint-Maximin’s services would be more suitable for Javi Gracia’s plans then fellow rumoured targets Ismaila Sarr and Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim Hassan, commonly known as Trezeguet.
United, Everton and Crystal Palace’s interest is also noted once more as some of the sides to have been interested in recent weeks, while it is explained that while the 22-year-old would like to aim higher, a move to a top-six side is not considered likely, and that he must join an ‘intermediate club’ first.
This is the same sentiment previously shared in the French media toward the end of June, when the interest from United that France Football refer to suggested the 5 ft 6 right-winger would not be far from agreeing personal terms with Newcastle chiefs after we were thought to have lodged a €25million (£22.4m) bid.
That offer was seemingly rejected, however, as Nice President Gauthier Ganaye is said to be confident that his €30m-40m (£26.9m-£35.9m) valuation will be met, despite Nice boss Patrick Vieira publically stating in April that Saint-Maximin is arrogant in his abilities.
“Allan’s problem is, unfortunately, that he thinks his talent is enough to reach the very highest level,” Vieira said. “And he must understand that he needs to work, to make sacrifices. He needs to suffer. And, unfortunately, he has not yet understood it.”
Watford now pushing for Saint-Maximin will be a frustrating setback to the Newcastle chiefs previously keen on signing the former France youth international, who scored six goals in 34 Ligue 1 games last season.
But the Hornets acquiring the 22-year-old could open the door for the Magpies to chase Sarr, having been linked with the Stade Rennais forward in June, although he is believed to prefer a move to Vicarage Road.