Premier League • England

Alexis Mac Allister: How £35m Liverpool hero became Klopp’s last transfer masterstroke

Ryan Baldi
Alexis Mac Allister and Jurgen Klopp around the Liverpool badge

Alexis Mac Allister could go down as one of the best Premier League bargains of modern times

Summer signing Alexis Mac Allister is deservedly receiving plaudits for his performances for Liverpool since the turn of the year.

And after the Argentinian playmaker unleashed a rocket into the top corner to give the Reds the lead in an eventual 3-1 win over Sheffield United at Anfield on Thursday evening, Jurgen Klopp was the latest to sing his praises.

“He is a really good player,” the Liverpool manager said. “In the first half he was playing six, but we knew we could move him slightly higher. Then he scores this kind of goal. The two biggest screamers of the season have come from him.

“Then the free-kick directly after – absolutely insane. What a player.”

Locked in a three-way title race, the Reds needed to respond to Manchester City’s 4-1 thumping of Aston Villa and Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Luton 24 hours earlier.

And Klopp’s men laboured in the early going. They were gifted an opening goal when United goalkeeper Ivo Grbic smashed a routine clearance against the on-rushing Darwin Nunez, ricocheting the ball into the unguarded net in the 17th minute.

But the home side were unable to extend their advantage in the first half. Then the Premier League’s rock-bottom team equalised after 58 minutes, when Gustavo Hamer’s back-post header deflected in off Conor Bradley for an own goal.

Cometh the hour, cometh the Mac. With a 25-yard bullet into the top corner that recalled images of Vincent Kompany’s title-deciding goal for Manchester City against Leicester in 2019 and Steven Gerrard’s Champions League stunner against Olympiacos in 2004, Mac Allister blasted Liverpool back into the lead with 13 minutes to play.

He almost added a second shortly after with a powerful, swerving – albeit slightly deflected – free kick from similar range, only for his effort to crash back off the crossbar.

Cody Gakpo made the result safe with a 90th-minute header, keeping Liverpool top of the table, two points clear of Arsenal and three above City, ahead their trip to take on Manchester United on Sunday. But it was Mac Allister who once again came out of the game with the most credit.

In addition to his goal, the former Brighton midfielder created two scoring chances for teammates, completed 88.6 percent and chipped in defensively with four tackles, two interceptions and one clearance.

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Mac Allister reminiscent of Alonso and Gerrard

It was yet another display from the 25-year-old World Cup winner that showcased a skillset combining elements of past Anfield greats Gerrard and Xabi Alonso.

As Klopp mentioned in his post-match praise, Mac Allister began the game as Liverpool’s deepest midfielder. And when operating in that role, it is not only for his auburn beard that he resembles Alonso. With his range of passing, ability to play between the lines of the opposition and dictate the game’s tempo, he exhibits a control over matches reminiscent of the former Real Madrid and Bayern Munich star.

Alexis Mac Allister has 36 apps, six goals and seven assists for Liverpool

His thunderbolt against Sheffield United kept up a streak of scoring or assisting in consecutive games that now stretches to six – something no Liverpool player has achieved since Gerrard in 2013.

And it is this ability to provide decisive interventions – either as creator or scorer – by applying textbook technique to meet moments of the highest stakes that Mac Allister is echoing Gerrard’s past Anfield heroics.

Reflecting on what has already been an outstanding season of individual performances for Mac Allister – and one that might yet still end with multiple winners’ medals as the Reds seek to add the Premier League and Europa League to the Carabao Cup they’ve already bagged – it is staggering how relatively little he cost when signing from Brighton last summer.

Judging by Chelsea’s moves for Mac Allister’s international colleague Enzo Fernandez and former south coast partner in crime Moises Caicedo, as well as Arsenal’s club-record acquisition of Declan Rice, the going rate for a sought-after central midfielder in the current transfer market is upwards of £100m.

The fact Liverpool snared Mac Allister for just £35 million already looks like the signing of the season. If he leads the Reds to a 20th top-flight title, the deal will be remembered as one of the great Premier League bargains.

In the final weeks of Klopp’s Liverpool reign, a triumphant farewell is being powered by his last great transfer market masterstroke.

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