Liverpool has completed a transfer that would surely get the Lionel Messi stamp of approval, with comparisons to Ballon d’Or winner Luka Modrić a major compliment.
Alexis Mac Allister has become Liverpool’s first signing of the summer, with Julian Ward doing much of the groundwork heading into the window and Jörg Schmadtke now at the club to build on it.
Sources at Brighton insisted to The Athletic’s Andy Naylor that Liverpool had not agreed a deal for Mac Allister on Monday lunchtime, but the transfer was underway. Perhaps — and this is only speculation — that was because Liverpool was aware of some form of a release clause and therefore did not need to negotiate that much.
Twenty-four hours later, Mac Allister was granted permission to undergo a medical with Liverpool and that was concluded, before his media duties were taken care of and he was unveiled on Thursday, taking the number 10 shirt.
Quite how much that clause is worth remains to be seen, officially remaining undisclosed. It has been suggested (by Fabrizio Romano) that it could be as little as $44m (£35m/€41m) and even if it is slightly more, it is a bargain for a player of that quality.
It should be remembered, however, that Brighton risked losing Mac Allister for nothing earlier this season. In October, ahead of his World Cup performances, Mac Allister penned an extension that meant Brighton could get a fee for him, but there was an exit mechanism within that and an agreement that he would be permitted to move at the end of the campaign.
Moisés Caicedo also signed a new contract earlier in the year, but the Ecuadorian is expected to be valued at close to $100m (£80m/€93m).
It was also reported by Andy Naylor that Brighton players and staff said goodbye to Mac Allister on a trip to Las Vegas last week, with a former Jürgen Klopp favorite Adam Lallana perhaps among them.
“Alexis… what a special player and special person,” Lallana told The Big Interview with Graham Hunter earlier this year. “He’s a player that is so pure with how he plays. The way he lends the football and uses others — there’s no selfishness in the way he plays.
“It was so special watching him during the World Cup, not playing to begin with then getting used and proving himself. Then playing so well that there’s no way he doesn’t play, by the end Messi is looking for him.”
Lallana went on to compare Mac Allister to Real Madrid and Croatia legend Luka Modrić for his diminutive style and intelligent decisions with and without the ball.
Lallana and Klopp have kept in touch since the former left Liverpool and while it is not known for sure whether the Brighton man was asked for his opinion, it seems highly likely.
Being a good character is a huge part of the deal for any Liverpool signing, and Mac Allister appears to be that. After becoming a World Champion, he was filmed letting local youngsters hold his medal as he exited Brighton’s training ground.
He leaves with the well-wishes of Brighton, having helped Roberto de Zerbi’s side to a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League. It is possible that his old side and his new team will meet in the Europa League next season.
Liverpool has acquired a superb player for a reasonable sum. Nothing sums that up better than his role at the World Cup, which involved facilitating for Lionel Messi.
Not in the Argentina team that lost to Saudi Arabia on matchday one, Mac Allister then came into the side and stayed there, working well with $128m (£103m/€120m) man Enzo Fernández.
It was the combinations with Messi, though, that caught the imagination the most. Wherever Messi went, Mac Allister was not far away, either setting up chances or assisting the eventual assister.
Mac Allister also assisted Ángel Di María’s World Cup final goal with a perfectly-weighted pass at the end of a sweeping move and was a key part of the team that won the biggest prize of them all.
It was not just in Qatar, however, that Mac Allister impressed. He was also a part of the Brighton team that pulled Liverpool apart at the Amex Stadium in January, two weeks after the Seagulls knocked the Reds out of the FA Cup (he played the full 90 minutes for that one too).
Having moved away from Jude Bellingham, Liverpool needed to find better value in the market and felt that it needed too many signings to try for the Borussia Dortmund star, who is heading to Real Madrid.
In Mac Allister, Liverpool has certainly taken a big step towards that. The question now is what comes next, with the Argentine an excellent start to the summer, but plenty more additions absolutely vital.