Liverpool's Gundogan? Why Mac Allister deal will be transformative

Sam McGuire
Sam McGuire
  • Updated:
  • 5 min read
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool, Alexis Mac Allister, Ilkay Gundogan, Man City
© ProShots

Alexis Mac Allister is finally a Liverpool player, with the Anfield club announcing his arrival from Brighton on a long-term deal on Thursday.

The World Cup winner becomes the first major transfer that any of the Premier League's Big Six have conducted, with the Argentine completing a deal that Fabrizio Romano confirms was for a relatively modest €40.5 million (£35m). Given that media reports had initially pegged Mac Allister's transfer fee as being almost twice this, Liverpool have done well with the price of a player FootballTransfers gives a top Expected Transfer Value (xTV) of €41.5m for.

MORE: Premier League 2023/24 summer transfers: All the Done Deals

It was a deal that Mac Allister was clearly eager to complete. In a story for The Times, Paul Joyce revealed Manchester United had tried to sign the 24-year-old, and even though they had Champions League football on offer, the versatile midfielder preferred a switch to Anfield.

All things considered, landing Mac Allister is quite the coup for the 2019/20 Premier League winners. The Reds missed out on the top four last season. Yet this didn’t damage their pursuit of the Brighton No.10 who seemingly seems sold on the project on Merseyside.

He will be the first player through the door this summer and he won’t be the last. He could be the most important, though.

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Alexis Mac Allister
© ProShots - Alexis Mac Allister

Liverpool's Ilkay Gundogan?

Mac Allister starred for Brighton this season under Roberto De Zerbi as the Seagulls finished sixth in the Premier League. He also forced his way into Argentina’s starting XI during the 2022 World Cup.

He went from squad player to key performer as Lionel Scaloni’s men claimed their first world title in 30 years. The former Argentinos Juniors youngster scored against Poland in the final group stage game and assisted Angel Di Maria in the final to really boost his stock.

The 24-year-old is a bit of a chameleon as a player. He’s played a variety of roles throughout his career and his performances rarely suffer. He initially started as a final phase player - playing in the forward line - but Graham Potter moved him into midfield to help Brighton in the build-up. After Potter left for Chelsea, De Zerbi arrived and eventually shifted Mac Allister into a double pivot alongside the in-demand Moises Caicedo.

Caciedo was the busier of the two defensively but the No.10 put in a shift without the ball. He developed into an all-rounder in midfield. Mac Allister knows when he needs to dictate things from deep and when he needs to just keep things simple in order to keep the ball moving.

De Zerbi would also use him almost as a second striker. In one of the final games of the season against Southampton, Mac Allister was deployed there and he created seven chances and completed 80% of his dribbles.

In some games for Liverpool, he will need to shoulder the creative burden and he has the ability to do just that. In other games, however, he will need to adopt a different role to allow others to take the lead. The Reds looked fairly fluid following the switch to the 3-2-2-3 shape and a player with Mac Allister’s skillset is needed to further improve this.

He could play the role Curis Jones made his own on the left side as a hybrid No.8/10. Mac Allister could do that on the right too, replacing the captain Jordan Henderson.

There’s potential there for him to play in the double pivot ahead of the back three too and in some games that may be something Klopp plumps for given the defensive side of Mac Allister’s game is underrated.

He could well be Liverpool’s very own Ilkay Gundogan.

Liverpool-linked Khephren Thuram
© ProShots - Liverpool-linked Khephren Thuram

A statement signing

FootballTransfers has revealed that the Reds are looking to bring in multiple midfielders this summer with Khephren Thuram, Manu Kone, Romeo Lavia and Gabri Veiga some of the names on their shortlist.

While all of them have varying traits, they are all over 6ft and all are fairly powerful in their own right. They would balance things out a little with the 5ft9 Mac Allister.

By signing a highly sought-after World Cup winner without Champions League football, Liverpool have strengthened the belief that their project is one that has a lot of potential and this will likely see a number of player take note.

It is a statement signing, even though others will move for €100m this summer.