🔴 EOTK Insider Opinion: Why Liverpool must do EVERYTHING to sign Alexis Mac Allister this summer & follow old blueprint ✅
The Brighton star's similarities to one former Red should be convincing enough
There’s an obvious handful of reasons as to why Liverpool are interested in Brighton and Hove Albion’s Alexis Mac Allister.
Beyond being a World Cup winner in 2022 with Argentina (and playing an integral role in Lionel Scaloni’s side), the No.10 is part of one of the hardest-working, efficient midfield threes in the Premier League with the Seagulls. A midfield that blends work-rate, defensive solidity and technical brilliance more than soundly.
Any of this ring a bell?
It should do, as Liverpool’s midfield used to be world-renowned for striking the right balance in all three departments. In a remarkable turn of events following the dizzy heights of a quadruple push last term, the Reds’midfield department has become ground zero for all the club’s struggles in 2022/23. Such is the extent of the difficulties in the middle of the park that the impact radius has caught both the backline and front-three.
The results - as a 5-2 defeat to Real Madrid certainly demonstrates - have been devastating on a scale not witnessed since around the time Jürgen Klopp took his first steps on the Anfield turf.
[Real Madrid exposed Liverpool’s frailties at an elite level of football - (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)]
“We know we have to improve, we know we have to change things, and we will,” Jurgen Klopp told the press ahead of the goalless draw at Selhurst Park. “We cannot do that now, but it’s already clear that we have to do something in the summer.”
A point of encouragement for some players, though, no doubt, the death knell for other stars’ careers on the red half of Merseyside.
It will come as no surprise to fans that both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keïta are two midfielders destined to make their way out of the club ahead of a summer rebuild.
James Milner could survive on another year-long contract extension and there will certainly be those within the club advocating for such an outcome - and not entirely without good reason.
Beyond question marks over the likes of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and, perhaps, Curtis Jones, the question now becomes who are we likely to see travel in the opposite direction?
It’s been made abundantly clear for months that both Klopp and Liverpool are huge fans of Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham, whilst prospective moves for Mason Mount and Matheus Nunes have also gathered a certain degree of pace across the media.
As an absolute minimum, we need fresh, young legs capable of meeting the demands of the manager’s high-energy style of football. It needs players who live for the press, who are capable of providing the level of protection for the backline necessary to facilitate the freedom of mobility our fullbacks have historically thrived on.
Beyond ALL of that, however, the one thing Liverpool critically need is balance. What that means in principle is the club going for a midfielder not quite as flashy as a Jude Bellingham (though arguably just as vital). Someone who is comfortable not stealing the headlines every week, adept at keeping possession and recycling the ball when required, adept at paying off the tactical debts of his midfield teammates to allow THEIR best attributes to flourish.
Liverpool need a Georginio Wijnaldum. More specifically, the next Georginio Wijnaldum.
[Was Gini Wijnaldum Liverpool’s most important midfielder? How much do we miss him? - (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)]
Which is where Brighton’s Mac Allister comes in nicely.
The parallels between the deal that took Wijnaldum to Anfield and the one that could bring Mac Allister to the same location are frightening.
At 24 years of age (our former No.5 was 25 when he made the switch from Newcastle United ), the Argentine fits the bill in terms of the age profile favoured by our recruitment team.
In terms of playing style, there’s not much Klopp and his coaching staff won’t like either. He can operate higher up the pitch as a No.10 (registering seven goals this term alone) just as well as he can screen the backline. With the German tactician thought to be keen on midfield options capable of playing the 8 and 6 roles, the fact Mac Allister can do all three should be hugely appealing.
On a more specific level, the former Argentinos star is perfectly capable of knowing when it’s the right time to recycle the ball or accelerate the play.
A handful of raw stats from FBREF, comparing Mac Allister’s current defensive numbers to Wijnaldum’s from the title-winning campaign of 2019/20 certainly suggests we’d have no qualms over the player’s ability to contribute deep or higher up the pitch.
According to StatsBomb, too, there are clear statistical similarities across a multitude of factors.
If ALL THAT doesn’t do it for our recruitment team, their eyes will inflate to double the size once they take a look back at his injury history.
We’ve written previously about Wijnaldum’s ludicrous hardiness, with the player missing less than 6% of his total league games played at Liverpool.
Want to take a stab at guessing Alexis Mac Allister’s league availability for Brighton?
Of the 115 top-flight games up for grabs with the South Coast-based outfit, the midfielder has missed only FOUR; three of which were down to illness with one absence courtesy of a back injury.
If many of our current senior midfielders are made out of little more than china and balsa wood, Mac Allister is reinforced steel all the way up from studs to skull.
Admittedly, there’s been quite a few appearances on the bench that may factor into the equation, though the numbers in general suggest that the Brighton star’s durability is comparable to that of ex-Red Wijnaldum’s.
The only questions that remain now are whether Liverpool are truly interested and, critically, whether we can afford him.
Having invited the player’s father and agent, Carlos Mac Allister, to watch our 5-2 defeat to Real Madrid as a club guest, it would heavily suggest that there is, at the very least, some curiosity on our part.
Reports [Football Transfers] have suggested that any interested party would then have to fork out £70m for the player’s signature - a not entirely unreasonable price in an inflated market for a World Cup-winning midfielder.
With balance so clearly missing from Liverpool’s midfield, however, £70m - even when factoring in the eye-watering fee we’ll have to plump out for Jude Bellingham in the summer - seems a bargain to fix a glaring issue.
Over to you, Liverpool.
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