With such an impressive catalogue of skills, a rapid rise to stardom and now a World Cup trophy to his name, it’s no surprise Brighton look resigned to losing Alexis Mac Allister to Liverpool.
The Argentine has shot to prominence over the last 12 months, terrorising defenders by putting on the best tribute act to Lionel Messi you can imagine.
We’re not trying to say Mac Allister is anywhere near Messi’s level, as promising as he is, but more so in the way he glides around the pitch, tying players up in knots and scoring worldies – doing so while looking more and more like his national team colleague with each passing gameweek.
Seriously, that resemblance is weirder than the fact he’s an Argentine with a Scottish name. We swear he didn’t look like him this much 12 months ago.
But when he’s not causing headaches at border control thanks to his unique family lineage, or doing his best to land a job in Madame Tussauds, Mac Allister is tearing it up in the Premier League for a Brighton outfit that the streets will never let you forget in approximately 5-10 years.
The Seagulls have developed a knack for unearthing hidden gems without anybody noticing, slyly integrating them into the first-team and then letting them flourish, by which point the secret is out and any interested parties will have to cough up a considerable transfer fee.
They’ve likely known for some time that Mac Allister was destined for bigger and better things, which is why they appear willing to let him leave for Liverpool should the Reds pay the asking price and close the deal.
It’s going to come at a cost, but Mac Allister will undoubtedly revive Jurgen Klopp’s midfield, in just about every way imaginable. Positionally astute? Check. Versatile? Check. Technically superior to most/all of their current options? Check. Endlessly cool and annoyingly handsome? Yeah, that too.
Add in the fact he’s a Premier League proven World Cup winner to that, it’s pretty clear to see that the 24-year-old will play a big part for Liverpool next season, and will very quickly win over his new fans. Having watched him in glimpses this season, though, half of them probably are already smitten.
Esepcially when they see what Mac Allister did to none other than Manchester United’s very own Casemiro.
Five-time Champions League winner Casemiro, there. Being spun into a new dimension and then dragged along for the ride down on the English south coast, by a bloke who many of us aren’t even convinced was a real person until last year.
If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, Mac Allister is special.
The first touch, already on the half-turn, is exquisite and the technique he demonstrates in gliding through takes both the iconic Brazilian and Anthony Martial out of the game, in one smooth movement. Casemiro then does his best to catch up, but Mac Allister’s agility and close control allows him to wriggle away in freakishly Messi-esque fashion.
Left red-faced and tangled up in his own legs, Casemiro has to resort to fouling. Bewildered, I’d bet. Who’s this nifty little sod?
And yet, Mac Allister can only get better. At 24, he’s got at least 10-12 years left in him, and he’s nowhere near his peak.
Now imagine him in that vintage Klopp, box-to-box midfield role, but instead of relying on energy, he can rely on technical grace, range of finishing and the ability to make some of the best players in the world look ready for the retirement home. Scary hours.
Time will tell if Mac Allister does complete a move to Anfield, and if he can swim once he feels the pressure of being at such a huge club. But given the way he took to being involved at the World Cup, and how much responsibility he has shouldered for Brighton this season, there’s very little reason to doubt him.
Casemiro’s probably still fuming about that clip.
By Mitchell Wilks