Allan Saint-Maximin has revealed his determination to earn a call-up to France’s World Cup squad and admits he dreams of one day winning the Ballon d'Or.
The Newcastle forward has earned international recognition from U16 through to U21 level but has yet to receive a senior call-up from boss Didier Deschamps.
However, he has not given up hope of breaking into the side in time for France's defence of the World Cup in Qatar later this year.
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Saint-Maximin on his international ambitions
Speaking to GOAL, Saint-Maximin admits he faces intense competition for a place in Deschamps' squad.
He cites the example of RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku, who has performed well for several years but only earned his first cap in March.
Despite that competition the prospect of competing at the World Cup in Qatar is never far from Saint-Maximin's thoughts and has done little to quell his determination to earn a call-up.
“We know the quality of the France team. There are players of very, very high level,” he said.
“We even see it with a player like Nkunku who performed really well, whether in the Champions League or at the club, who still took a lot of time before being called up.
“It means that the coach is very demanding, that it is not just a question of statistics or qualities. I also think the coach is thinking about how a new player will be able to incorporate himself into the group and how he will be able to help the France team play better football.
"So I think that when I have ticked all these boxes, maybe I will have the chance to finally be selected.”
Asked what he needs to do in order to break into the France squad, Saint-Maximin added: “I know it's all about work. In any case, I will continue to work. I will continue to perform well and help my club.
“It's hard not to think about it [the World Cup]. It remains an objective for any French person to represent his country, to compete in major competitions like this.
“When France's team won the World Cup, it was something incredible. Besides, I had friends who were there too.
“To see them so joyful and to see them perform for our country, it was really, even for me who was not called up, thrilling. So I can't even imagine the feeling they must have felt.
“In life, you always get what you deserve. I will continue to work in the hope that I will have the chance to be called up one day.”
Saint-Maximin on his Newcastle form
Since joining Newcastle in 2019, the club has spent most of the time in the lower reaches of the Premier League table, which Saint-Maximin believes has limited his attacking output.
Despite his attacking flair he has just five goals and four assists from 38 appearances in all competitions so far this season.
However, that could soon change following the Saudi-backed takeover of the club, with the new owners promising to provide huge investment that could transform the Magpies’ fortunes.
“We have an exceptional group, but we don't often have the ball. We try to give everything to offer something interesting, to make sure we are a team that is difficult to beat, but we're not going to lie to each other, we're not Barcelona or Liverpool either,” said the 25-year-old.
“I know my qualities, I know what I am capable of doing. When you look more closely, most of my goals were scored on individual achievements. I don't really put goals where I get gifts and I just have to finish one-on-one against the goalkeeper.
“All the people who train with me or who have played with me have seen my true qualities and don't have to wait until I'm in a top club or playing with great players to know that I have the level to play in the Champions League or for, maybe one day, win the Ballon d'Or.
“For example, when I saw Kylian [Mbappe at Monaco] for the first time, I knew very well that he had the ability and the potential to do everything he is doing today and that he was going to become one of the best players in the world if not the best.
“We have already made very big performances and we know that with what is happening, with the acquisition of the club, we will be able to really give the Newcastle fans what they deserve.
“So I'm really very focused on that. We have to finish the season well and we'll see what happens next.”
What did Saint-Maximin say about the Ballon d'Or?
Saint-Maximin’s ambitions extend beyond simply breaking into the France squad - he wants to join the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo by lifting the Ballon d’Or.
“When I talk about the Ballon d'Or, it's a dream. I think any player dreams of winning the Ballon d'Or. It's a kid's dream," he said. "Of course, I am very far from the Ballon d'Or at the moment, but in terms of quality, I think I'm able to do it.”