The 24-year-old livewire turned in a superb individual display in the Magpies’ vital 3-1 home win over Everton on Tuesday, after which Toffees boss Frank Lampard described him as “pretty unplayable”.
Head coach Howe realises what a talent he has on his hands in the £16million Frenchman, and is convinced that with even more to come, he can star on the international stage.
Howe said: “A hundred per cent that’s something he can achieve, without a doubt. He’s got everything you’d want in his locker already.
“You look at his performance the other day – the cross for Ryan Fraser’s goal from a position in which there was no space to get that ball into the box was incredible, but his overall work-rate and endeavour and attitude were very good and if he can hit that consistently, then what a player he can be.
“There’s no doubt he’s got the talent to do anything he wants to do, but finding that on a consistent basis will be the challenge for any player of his type. It’s not easy, but I’ve been very, very pleased with him in recent weeks.”
Saint-Maximin’s ability to dribble at pace has mesmerised defences since his arrival from Nice in August 2019, although as his reputation has grown, opponents have worked hard to nullify a man who too often in the recent past has represented relegation-threatened Newcastle’s only threat.
However, boosted by the club’s January spending spree and ongoing work on the training pitch, he proved too hot to handle in midweek and both he and Howe will hope for a repeat when Aston Villa come calling on Sunday.
Howe, who has a doubt over England full-back Kieran Trippier, said: “He’s unique as a person and as a player. I’m excited by him.
“Every time he steps onto the pitch, there’s that feeling that you don’t quite know what he’s going to do and how he can win you this game because he is a match-winner, there’s no doubt about that.
“Some of the things he did in his last game, I thought, were exceptional, but I want to see that again and again on a more consistent basis.”
Saint-Maximin has been repeatedly linked with a move away from St James’ Park, although the club’s new ownership means his departure is no longer the inevitability it once seemed.
Howe said: “There’s no intention from my side to lose Maxi.
“I’ve seen no indication from the player that his head’s anywhere other than Newcastle and making sure he’s committed to us in this position and trying to elevate the team out of the difficulties we’re in.”