STEVE BRUCE has described Allan Saint-Maximin as the “signing of the season” – and expressed confidence the winger will not be leaving St James’ Park this summer.

Saint-Maximin was shortlisted for the Premier League’s Player of the Month award for June yesterday, with his nomination reflecting the quality of his displays since the end of the footballing lockdown.

He was all-but-unplayable as he set up the first three goals in Newcastle’s 4-1 win at Bournemouth on Wednesday, and his summer transfer from French side Nice already looks like a steal.

The Magpies paid around £17m to sign Saint-Maximin on a six-year deal, and despite missing a big chunk of the first half of the season with a hamstring injury, the 23-year-old has already seen his value soar to two or three times that price.

“At the levels of money we’re talking about that we bought him for, then pound-for-pound, I think he’s arguably the best signing in the Premier League,” said Bruce, who picked up his own nomination yesterday as he was shortlisted for the Premier League’s Manager of the Month award for June on the back of Newcastle’s post-lockdown wins over Sheffield United and Bournemouth and their draw with Aston Villa.

“Tell me another one better than that, especially with the kind of money that teams were spending pre-lockdown? I’m not so sure there’ll be the same huge amounts spent after lockdown, but if you look at what he’s producing and what he is, then I think we’ve probably got the buy of the season.”

Unsurprisingly, the quality of Saint-Maximin’s performances have not gone unnoticed, with a series of headlines yesterday suggesting the Frenchman’s representatives are keen to renegotiate the contract that was signed last summer.

The winger has been linked with a number of the Premier League’s top sides in the last few weeks, while his fellow forward, Miguel Almiron, has been flagged up in the Spanish media as a likely summer target for Atletico Madrid.

Almiron’s agent has claimed the Paraguayan has a release clause in his contract that could pave the way for his departure from St James’ Park, but while Bruce is aware of the mounting interest in both players, he is confident Newcastle will not be losing either this summer.

“There’s no chance of them leaving,” he said. “For Allan and for Almiron, yes there’s speculation about their futures and this, that and the other, but they’ve only been here for a short period of time.

“I’m not going to be naïve enough to ignore the fact that every player in the world has their own price. I’m sure if you asked Leicester whether they wanted to sell Harry Maguire, they probably didn’t, but sometimes you get to a certain level.

“But the good thing for me is that they’re performing on the pitch, which is why they’re being linked with different things. Every conversation I have at the minute with a journalist or broadcaster is about Allan. We all enjoy watching him, and the rest is up to him, but he has to prolong it. He’s done it for a few weeks now, but he’s got to stay there at this level.

“We’ll deal with the speculation when it comes. If Allan and Almiron keep playing the way they are, it’s inevitable they’re going to attract so-called bigger fish. But let’s deal with that when it comes.”

Bruce expects to hold talks over possible new contracts in the next few weeks, and the Newcastle boss will also be discussing the future of the club’s three loan players. Danny Rose is expected to leave Tottenham on a permanent basis this summer, Schalke have indicated a willingness to sell Nabil Bentaleb and Valentino Lazaro’s deal from Inter Milan is understood to include a clause for a possible £20m deal at the end of the season.

“All of those conversations will be had when the time is right, but I’ve certainly been very pleased with the loan signings,” said Bruce. “I was particularly pleased with Nabil the other night - I thought that was easily his best game – and for Lazaro to come on and have the impact that he did was also good to watch. We'll see how they go in the next six games and see where their respective clubs are.”

Newcastle return to action against West Ham United on Sunday with Sean Longstaff unavailable after he suffered a hamstring injury at Bournemouth.

Newcastle (probable, 4-4-1-1): Dubravka; Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Rose; Saint-Maximin, Hayden, Shelvey, Ritchie; Almiron; Joelinton.