Liverpool must build the team around Alexis Mac Allister - losing him is unthinkable

When push comes to shove, Liverpool's Player of the Year award is surely a simple toss-up between Alexis Mac Allister and Virgil van Dijk.

The Argentine has come in and been a joy to watch, growing in stature by the week, while Liverpool's colossal captain has been back to his best most weeks.

There are other players worthy of a mention, with Alisson often superb but also missing a chunk of action through injury, and Harvey Elliott an increasingly influential presence as the season went on.

Even Mohamed Salah's numbers were again strong, even though some would make you think he was the main problem this season.

In Mac Allister, though, Liverpool have found themselves an absolute gem - someone who felt like a perfect signing when he joined from Brighton last summer, and who has backed up that opinion emphatically.

It was fitting that the 25-year-old guided home the opening goal in Sunday's 2-0 win over Wolves, as he enjoyed a major contribution to cap off a fantastic season.

Some worrying rumours have emerged regarding a shock exit for Mac Allister in the near future, however, with Real Madrid reportedly interested in taking him to the club.

Mac Allister's head being turned?

With legendary pair Toni Kroos and Luke Modric now well into their 30s - the latter will turn 40 next year, in fact - a midfield maestro is needed to make up for the eventual loss of them, either this summer or in 2025 should they sign one-year deals.

Mac Allister is considered one of the contenders to fill that sizeable void, and given the allure of Real for South American players, it is hard not to be at least slightly worried about his head being turned.

For all of Van Dijk and Salah's continued brilliance, not to mention Alisson and Trent Alexander-Arnold also being indispensable figures, keeping hold of Mac Allister feels as big a necessity as anything for Liverpool this summer.

Alexis Mac Allister, Liverpool

Manchester, England, 17th March 2024. Alexis Mac Allister of Liverpool celebrates scoring their equalising goal during The FA Cup Quarter Final match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture: Andrew Yates / Sportimage EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or live services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. SPI-3016-0028

The World Cup-winning star has grown into one of the most influential figures at Anfield in a short space of time, so much so that some could already even pick him in a best-ever Liverpool XI during Jurgen Klopp's tenure.

Having taken a little time to find his feet, not helped by playing in an unfamiliar No.6 role, Mac Allister has been fabulous since the turn of the year, in particular, looking like arguably the signing of the season in the Premier League.

Mac Allister one of the Premier League's best

Thriving with more freedom as a No.8, his combination of technical magic, end product, tackling tenacity and elite tactical awareness have made him one of the division's outstanding players.

Mac Allister finished the season with 10 goal contributions in the league - five goals and assists apiece - as well as averaging three tackles per game, also enjoying a tally of 1.4 key passes and 1.1 interceptions per match.

His tackling numbers were only bettered by Stefan Bajcetic, who played just 26 minutes of action and cannot realistically be counted, and it highlights the former Brighton star's underrated off-the-ball quality.

While Dominik Szoboszlai and Wataru Endo ran out of steam in the final months of the campaign, and Ryan Gravenberch remains something of an enigma, Mac Allister only got stronger.

His memorable Steven Gerrard-esque strike in front of the Kop at home to Sheffield United felt like a big moment in the title race at the time, and there were also key contributions against the likes of Fulham (screamer) and Manchester City (vital penalty at Anfield).

Losing him doesn't bear thinking about

For every perfectly-timed tackle or interception there has been an aesthetically pleasing pass or turn, and barring a lack of pace, he is the complete footballer.

This all shows why losing Mac Allister doesn't even bear thinking about for Liverpool, in what would be a monumental blow for Arne Slot before his first game as manager even gets underway.

Even if it's next year instead, it would be equally galling.

Still only 25 - he admittedly looks older than that - it would be a surprise if the Argentina star's best years weren't still ahead of him, and he has the ability to grow into Liverpool's next truly great midfielder.

Football - Football League Cup - Final - Chelsea FC v Liverpool FC LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 25, 2024: Liverpool s Alexis Mac Allister L and Andy Robertson R celebrate with the trophy after the Football League Cup Final match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0 after extra-time. Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda LONDON Wembley Stadium GREATER LONDON ENGLAND PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK Copyright: xDavidxRawcliffex P2024-02-25-Chelsea_Liverpool-118

Both Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano will act as a warning to Liverpool supporters, however, with the former joining Madrid in 2009 and the latter moving to Barca the following year, breaking up the "best midfield in the world" with Gerrard in the process.

The Reds did at least have a number of fantastic years from both, which did slightly help ease the blow of losing them, but to see Mac Allister depart after only a season or two would be cruel.

The hope is that nothing comes of the rumours, and that Liverpool's majestic No.10 only sees his future belonging at Anfield, as he goes into the Slot era as one of the undisputed star men at the club.

English band James once sang "if I hadn't seen such riches, I could live with being poor", and Reds supporters would painfully be able to relate to those lyrics if they only got to see one season of Mac Allister.

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