Magical Alexis Mac Allister assist sums up his elite brilliance

Some footballers are just a joy to watch.

Everything they do has an element of class about it, and other mere mortals are only capable of matching their level sporadically.

Alexis Mac Allister is one of those individuals.

When Liverpool signed the 25-year-old for just £35m last summer, it felt like a match made in heaven from the off, with the Argentine possessing everything that the Reds’ midfield had been lacking throughout the season.

He had starred for a Brighton side rightly earning praise for their eye-catching brand of football, and he was also fresh off the back of 2022 World Cup glory with Argentina, assisting Angel Di Maria in the final.

There have been some injury problems along the way, and a few signs of fatigue after international breaks, but Mac Allister has proven to be every bit as outstanding as we hoped.

He grew impressively into the No.6 role that Jurgen Klopp handed to him earlier in the campaign, following some understandable early teething issues, but it is in his preferred No.8 position that we have truly seen him at his best of him of late.

Wataru Endo has let him off his leash, and he has found new gears because of it.

That was no more evident than in Saturday’s never-shredding 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest, which could well top the list of the most pleasing wins of the season to date, given the dramatic nature of the victory.

Liverpool were never close to being at their best at the City Ground, with a much-changed and weakened team struggling to find rhythm, but Mac Allister was superb all afternoon, along with the likes of Caoimhin Kelleher and Virgil van Dijk.

He held together a midfield that also contained Joe Gomez and Bobby Clark - who would’ve predicted that as a starting midfield unit back in August? - with his quality in possession and tenacity off the ball both so eye-catching.

Mac Allister’s deservedly earned the star rating (8.4) from FotMob, with the stats-based site noting that he made five defensive actions and recoveries apiece, as well as winning three duels and completing 85% of his passes.

Alexis Mac Allister

London, England, 17th February 2024. Alexis Mac Allister of Liverpool during the Premier League match at Gtech Community Stadium, London. Paul Terry / Sportimage

Given the nature of Liverpool’s starting lineup, and the frenetic style of the game, that is a big influence on proceedings, but there was one moment that clearly stood out the the most.

It was Mac Allister’s gorgeous assist that allowed Darwin Nunez to head home the Reds’ biggest goal of the season so far, and it was achieved through such poise and technical brilliance.

Rather than panic and simply try and get the ball into the box, with only seconds remaining on the clock, Liverpool’s No.10 bided his time, shifted onto his weaker left foot and delivered a perfect dinked ball onto the head of Nunez, whose finish was equally brilliant.

It was up there with Mac Allister’s most significant contribution in a Liverpool shirt to date, and on such moments are Premier League titles potentially won in the long run.

This is why he was seen as such a primary transfer target last summer - to stand tall in the most pressurised moments, drowning out the noise around him and proving to be a difference-maker when it really counts.

Others can shy away in such situations, but he grows when the most is expected, even though much of what he does can often be understated.

It would be unfair to name names, but there are so many Liverpool midfielders throughout history who would have rushed the cross, seeing it either blocked or overhit, but this is what you get when to sign a World Cup winner who knows how to manage ‘clutch’ moments.

Ignore the angelic face and likeable personality, Mac Allister is a ruthless footballer who knows how to win, and he is playing a huge role in this unforgettable spell for the Reds, as they constantly overcome obstacles amid injury adversity.

In the opening months of the season, Dominik Szoboszlai looked like Liverpool’s best midfield signing of the summer, while Endo has also excelled, already reaching cult hero status.

It is Mac Allister who is proving to be the most impressive piece of business after the woes of last season, however, with his influential recent performances alongside youngsters and makeshift midfielders highlighting both his elite quality and mentality.

Klopp saw him as an obvious target to bring in, and for £35m, that is looking like being one of the biggest transfer steals in many years. He is arguably worth double that, especially given his age.

While some footballers rely so much on pace, and others become dominant through brute strength, Mac Allister is one of the best midfielders in the Premier League without having either in abundance.

He is as intelligent as they come, whether it be in a tactical sense off the ball or a knowledge of where his teammates are on the pitch, and he is the archetypical manager’s dream.

Mac Allister himself has joked about his relationship with Klopp, who clearly thinks the world of him as a footballer, admitting that his Liverpool teammates mock him about it.

He said: “Many of my teammates tease me because they say that [Klopp] is my dad now. The relationship with him is perfect, he is a very charismatic person, who always tries to be close to the players.”

It is easy to see why the Liverpool manager adores him so much, though, and if the Reds do end up winning the title this season, or at least taste other silverware of some kind, the Argentina star’s impact will have been a big reason for it.

What a footballer he is.

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