ARSENAL are ready to test Newcastle United’s resolve to hold on to Allan Saint-Maximin – if the Premier League blocks Mike Ashley’s ongoing attempts to sell the club to Amanda Staveley’s Saudi Arabia-backed consortium.

Saint-Maximin has rapidly developed into one of English football’s hottest properties in the last few weeks, with his match-winning displays since the end of lockdown earning rave reviews from right across Europe.

A number of continental clubs are understood to have made contact with the winger’s representatives, with Paris St Germain and Napoli both having been linked, but Arsenal are the Premier League side that currently have the strongest interest in the 23-year-old.

Despite the fall-out from the coronavirus pandemic affecting footballing finances throughout the English top-flight, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has been assured he will have funds available to strengthen his squad this summer.

Saint-Maximin features prominently on his wanted list, with sources claiming Arsenal’s scouting team having delivered a series of positive reports, but there is an acceptance at the Emirates that any move for the winger will be dependent on Newcastle’s off-field situation.

Steve Bruce bullishly claimed Saint-Maximin would be “going nowhere this summer” when he was asked about the forward at the end of last week, and that is likely to be the case if Staveley’s takeover is given the green light to proceed by the Premier League. If Newcastle change hands this summer, the club’s new Saudi owners will not want to begin their reign by selling off any of the Magpies’ leading assets, and will almost certainly be willing to open discussions about an improved contract with Saint-Maximin and his representatives.

However, if the takeover falls through and Ashley remains in charge, it is unlikely that the Sports Direct boss will want to start offering new contracts to anyone while he embarks on a fresh attempt to sell up. In such a scenario, Newcastle would be vulnerable to offers for their most saleable assets as there would be an inevitable temptation for Ashley to cash in, and Arsenal would be keen to test the water at the end of the current campaign.

The Gunners signed Nicolas Pepe from Lille for a club-record fee of £72m last August, and while they would not want to go anything like that high for Saint-Maximin, there is an acceptance that the Frenchman’s recent performances have elevated him to an elite rank of Premier League performers.

Saint-Maximin was forced off in the second half of Newcastle’s weekend draw with West Ham United, and having started every one of the club’s matches since the end of lockdown, Bruce accepts his side’s attacking talisman will almost certainly have to sit out Wednesday’s trip to Manchester City. The same is true of Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden, who are also struggling with muscular issues.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think I could ask Allan to go again on Wednesday, that’s for sure,” said Bruce. “Out two, arguably, fittest players in Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden have both got hamstring injuries. They’re not serious, but it’s two or three weeks which probably rules them out.”

Having been an unused substitute against West Ham, Danny Rose is set to return to the starting line-up at the Etihad, and the Tottenham loanee has confirmed his desire to complete a permanent move to Newcastle later this summer.

Rose joined on loan in January, and with Spurs boss Jose Mourinho having confirmed he is not part of his long-term plans, the former England international is expected to leave north London for good at the end of the current campaign.

Bruce will be keen to sign him permanently, although again, the outcome of any talks could well be dependent on Newcastle’s ownership situation. Ashley has previously been reluctant to pay transfer fees or commit high wages for players coming towards the end of their career, and Rose turned 30 at the start of this month.

Nevertheless, he has enjoyed his time on Tyneside and is hoping to secure a permanent contract with the Magpies.

“For me, I’d love to play for Newcastle for longer that what’s on my contract,” said Rose, who has recently entered the final 12 months of his Spurs deal. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that my days possibly are numbered at Spurs and I’m playing for my future.”