DAVID GINOLA, Laurent Robert, Hatem Ben Arfa. Over the course of the last two-and-a-half decades, Newcastle United have done pretty well with their maverick French wingers.

It remains early days in the development of Allan Saint-Maximin, with the 23-year-old having made just 29 starts in a black-and-white shirt. Increasingly, though, there is a sense that Newcastle’s latest cross-Channel creator could be the best of the lot.

What was the highlight of his latest mesmeric match-winning display on Saturday night? Perhaps it was the effortless way in which he danced around five Burnley defenders before drilling home the crisp low finish that opened the scoring? Maybe it was the searing pace that took him past Charlie Taylor in the second half, not to mention the slide-rule cross that followed, setting up Callum Wilson’s first goal? Or might it have been the desperation in the face of his opponents as they were forced to resort to trying to kick him off the pitch, such was the extent of his superiority when in possession?

Whatever your preference, Saint-Maximin’s performance will live long in the memory. These are dark, difficult times on Tyneside, but with his flashes of individualistic brilliance, Newcastle’s Parisian wide-man is doing everything he can to try to light things up.

“He’s got breathtaking ability,” said Steve Bruce, whose side rose as high as sixth in the table in the immediate aftermath of their first Premier League home win of the campaign. “We all know there’s a bit of a maverick in him, which sometimes can become difficult, but he’s different, unique.

“He’s a wonderful footballer – his skills are as good as anyone I’ve worked with. He’s still got a lot of work to do defensively wise, but when he gets you faced up and one-on-one in the box, with the pace and power he’s got, then he is naturally a joy to watch. Let’s hope he keeps improving because he’s a big asset to us when he’s right.”

Keeping Saint-Maximin fit will be a challenge. Having taken a series of hefty whacks on Saturday night, Newcastle’s match-winner was forced to hobble off with 17 minutes still to play. The international break should enable him to recover in time to face Manchester United in just under a fortnight’s time, but with his game reliant on pace and power, Bruce will have to protect him whenever possible this season, with opposition defenders all-but-certain to single him out for especially rough treatment.

He can be all-but-unplayable when stationed out wide, but Bruce has seen another side to his game that persuaded him to move Saint-Maximin infield into a ‘number ten’ role for parts of Saturday’s game. The ploy came up trumps, and if Saint-Maximin is able to add increased versatility as another string to an already impressive bow, he really could be a force to be reckoned with this season.

“He’s playing without a pre-season really, so we’ve had to nurse him gently and make sure we haven’t been rushing him back too quickly,” said Bruce. “He’s always going to get a kick or a whack because that’s the way he plays.

“Tactically, we changed him to the number ten and swapped him with Jo, and that’s another option he gives us because, there, he can go both ways. He can go left and right, and I thought it worked a treat. That’s given me food for thought.”

Every creator needs a finisher, of course, and in that respect, Saint-Maximin can surely only benefit from the presence of Wilson, whose two goals at the weekend mean he has become the first Newcastle forward since Les Ferdinand to score four goals in his first four league outings for the club.

Like Ferdinand, Wilson comes alive inside the 18-yard box, and having spent the last couple of seasons toiling without a natural finisher, Newcastle now find themselves blessed with one of the most clinical goalscorers in the English game.

The run that took him on to the end of Saint-Maximin’s cross for Newcastle’s crucial second goal was driven by pure instinct, with Wilson willing to gamble that the ball would arrive to coincide with his surge into the six-yard box. The 77th-minute penalty that confirmed the Magpies’ win oozed confidence and class, with Wilson impudently chipping the ball down the middle of the goal.

Carry on as he has been, and the 28-year-old will surely spend the rest of the season challenging the likes of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Danny Ings for a place in the England squad at next summer’s Euros. With every week that passes, it becomes harder and harder to see how Newcastle managed to prise him from Bournemouth for £20m.

“When I see the amounts of money that are being spent, I think we’ve done a fabulous piece of business,” said Bruce. “He’s a goalscorer. You just have to look at theway he scored his first goal – there was no doubt at all that he was going to arrive in the six-yard box to meet Allan’s cross.

“He would have to be right up there with anyone in the country at the moment. We’re blessed with many, many good strikers in England, but all he can do is keep playing the way he is. There’s a long way until the Euros, they’re a long way off, and he’s forced his way into that in the past. If he keeps playing like he is, and keeps well and fit, then hopefully his chance will come again.”

Wilson almost opened the scoring at the weekend when he rounded Nick Pope, only to find himself in too wide a position to fashion a shot. A minute later and Newcastle were ahead, with Saint-Maximin receiving Wilson’s lay-off before turning past both Taylor and Dale Stephens to create sufficient space to fire home.

The Magpies fully merited their first-half advantage, but it disappeared just after the hour mark as Burnley’s strong start to the second half delivered an equaliser.

Phil Bardsley’s cross was deflected into the path of Ashley Westwood at the back post, and the midfielder drilled a well-struck finish past Karl Darlow’s left hand.

Suddenly, the game was in the balance, but Newcastle’s second goal took the wind out of Burnley’s sails. For the second time in the game, the interplay between Saint-Maximin and Wilson proved the Clarets’ undoing.

A third goal arrived with 13 minutes left, with Pope’s failure to control a back-pass from James Tarkowski enabling substitute Ryan Fraser to nip in and claim possession. Pope compounded his initial error by upending Fraser as he shaped to shoot, and Wilson stepped up to convert his second successful spot-kick in the space of two league games.

His first had secured a last-gasp draw at Spurs, and with seven points from their first four matches, Newcastle have made their best start to a Premier League season since Alan Pardew’s side burst out of the traps in the 2011-12 campaign.

“It’s been a thoroughly decent start,” said Bruce. “Yes, we need to keep improving, and I think we’re a work in progress. We’re still a long way short of where we need to be, but we’re trying to implement change and it has been a good start.

“I hope the Newcastle supporters can see what we’re trying to do in terms of the way we’re changing the way we’re trying to play.”