Reports by BUT! Football Club earlier this week claimed that the agent of Alban Lafont had contacted Allan Saint-Maximin’s representatives with a view to securing a Premier League transfer, and Steve Bruce should utilise his star winger to lure the Fiorentina goalkeeper to Newcastle United.
Lafont is currently in Ligue 1 on loan with FC Nantes and has emerged as a rare star of an otherwise bleak French top-flight season for La Maison Jaune, with the 22-year-old frequently key to preventing Raymond Domenech’s side any further embarrassment.
If he can work a deal with Lafont’s parent Serie A outfit, Nantes owner Waldemar Kita would like to retain the former Toulouse talent beyond his temporary spell. And while the shot-stopper is not expected to head back to Italy for long at the end of the season, is projected to attract an array of interest.
Clubs in England, Germany, France and Italy are all thought to be scouting Lafont, including Olympique de Marseille who may pursue the £11.5m-rated youngster this summer as they look to secure Steve Mandanda’s successor.
Lafont’s desire is to join a European side where he can continue to evolve and had his eyes fixed on a transfer to the Premier League, however the impact of Brexit and Covid-19 is seen to have placed additional hurdles in the way of a move across the Channel.
Nonetheless, his agent appears to have begun sounding out the chances of establishing a route into the country by contacting Saint-Maximin’s representatives, after they concluded a £16.5m deal for the winger to join Newcastle from OGC Nice in 2019.
Bruce should now attempt to utilise Saint-Maximin and his representatives to push United as a worthwhile destination for Lafont, as the France U21 international could easily prove to be the Toon’s long-term option in goal rather than for Marseille.
Newcastle would appear to have reformed a strong relationship with Saint-Maximin’s representatives after working on a new double-your-money deal for the winger last year, after he had reportedly grown frustrated at still being on the £36,000-per-week terms penned upon his initial arrival.
That rapport could prove vastly beneficial in any efforts to sign Lafont, who The Guardian have previously described as a cat-like ‘keeper for his instinctive reflex saves.
He may have conceded 39 times in 24 Ligue 1 games this season, keeping only three clean sheets, due to Nantes’ dire form that sees them fighting for survival. Yet the 6 ft 4 Lafont still boasts a save percentage that can rival the efforts of Bayern Munich’s UEFA Men’s Team of the Year star Manuel Neuer or Liverpool’s Allison Becker.
According to FB Ref data, Lafont has saved 69.8% of all on-target shots faced in the French top-flight this term, having turned away 74 of the 106 efforts that La Maison Jaune have allowed. Neuer, meanwhile, has saved 69.9% of the 83 shots he’s faced in the Bundesliga, while Allison boasts a 70.4% success rate from the 54 shots the Reds have given up in the Brazilian’s 19 Premier League games to date.
Still only 22, Lafont also has years to grow and continue establishing himself in a bigger environment. So, if the contact is there, why shouldn’t Bruce urge Newcastle to utilise what options are at their disposal to try and bring the goalkeeper to St. James’ Park?