Alexis Mac Allister is set to sign for Liverpool after no doubt wooing Jürgen Klopp with a performance called ‘different class’ and ‘absolutely outstanding’.
Alexis Mac Allister is set to sign for Liverpool, becoming the first World Cup winner to play for the Reds since Pepe Reina in 2013.
Mac Allister’s performance in the final against France is most remembered for his role in Argentina’s masterpiece of a second goal.
His assist for Ángel Di María was perfectly weighted, but the quality of the execution disguised the difficulty of the pass in the first place. Many would have been of a mind to shoot after receiving the pass in Mac Allister’s position, only to see the angle inevitably closed off.
But he’d spotted Di María scrambling to get into the box on the far side and swept the ball around Jules Koundé and into his path.
Just as important was his contribution earlier in the move. Mac Allister played a first-time pass round the corner to Lionel Messi in his own half to open France up before charging forward towards the area. Prior to receiving the ball, he’d clearly scanned his environment in the same manner that new teammate Thiago so often does, and he outwitted Aurélien Tchouaméni, a reported transfer target for the Reds this summer and a player with a price tag of at least $107m/€100m/£86m (via The Mirror). The Real Madrid man was unable to close off the pass to Messi, and he was then left behind as Mac Allister set off.
But we shouldn’t devote all our attention to moment, much as it was Mac Allister’s individual highlight, because his performance as a whole was excellent too.
BBC Sport’s Jermaine Jenas called it ‘different class’ (via The Boot Room), The Daily Mail’s Oliver Holt dubbed it ‘absolutely outstanding’ and South American football expert Tim Vickery said victory had made him an ‘immortal’.
Watching his individual highlights, the main thing that stands out is his total calmness. As a Brighton player, and no disrespect is intended, Mac Allister’s experience of the biggest stage was decidedly limited. And this, on just his eighth competitive appearance for the national team, was the grandest of all.
Despite that, there were no signs of any nerves whatsoever. Mac Allister controlled tricky passes with aplomb and comfortably received the ball under pressure, while also demonstrating total focus and clarity of thought in his actions.
Another impressive feature of his display at the Lusail Stadium was his elusiveness. He was able to escape challenges either through his manipulation of the ball, his disguised body shape or his deceptively good acceleration, which saw him motor away from Tchouaméni and Adrien Rabiot after a give-and-go with Marcos Acuña.
At one point, four France players converged on him midway through their half, but he held off Antoine Griezmann before simply knocking the ball through a gap between Tchouaméni and Dayot Upamecano. Later, Kingsley Coman charged towards him, only to be beaten by a roulette.
The stats paint a picture of a player who the opposition really struggled to handle. Mac Allister ranked second among the Argentina squad for successful take-ons (two) and was fouled three times, placing him joint-third in the match.
Only Messi and Kylian Mbappé could better his 26 touches in the attacking third, but he also got back to do his defensive work too. He blocked crosses from Ousmane Dembélé and Randal Kolo Muani deep in Argentina territory and also pounced on a loose touch from the latter and shrugged him to the ground to halt a France attack.
He was joint-second in the match leaderboard for clearances (three), and fourth for loose ball recoveries (eight).
Mac Allister didn’t really have clear sights at goal — one effort was comfortably held by Hugo Lloris and two others were wayward — but he made a huge playmaking impact.
Only three players beat him for shot-creating actions (four), and only Messi played more progressive passes than his eight.