Alexis Mac Allister hopes to fulfil World Cup dream his father missed out on

Alexis Mac Allister’s rise with Brighton & Hove Albion is accelerating.

The importance of the Argentina international midfielder to the team has never been greater, with the World Cup in Qatar just a week away.

The new contract signed by Mac Allister last month, which runs until June 2025 with the option of a further year for the Premier League club, shows how a key part the 23-year-old has become at the Amex Stadium.

Brighton also had an option year in his previous contract, which was due to expire next summer. Despite the comfort of this protection, they were keen to resolve his long-term future.

Originally signed under Chris Hughton almost four years ago, Mac Allister has become an increasingly valuable asset.

He was involved in 33 of 38 Premier League games last season as Brighton found themselves in ninth place under Graham Potter, their best top-flight result. Marc Cucurella (35 appearances), Leandro Trossard and Joel Veltman (both 34) were the only outfield players to feature more often.

Mac Allister’s growth has accelerated this season, now that he has gone from a versatile midfielder to a specialist.

Since the summer sale of defensive shield Yves Bissouma to Tottenham, Mac Allister has operated with Ecuadorian Moises Caicedo in a dual South American pivot, both under Potter before he left for Chelsea in September and also under his Italian successor Roberto De Zerbi.

He has started all 13 league appearances this campaign, scoring four goals, behind only Trossard (seven) and Pascal Gross (five).

The confidence De Zerbi places in Mac Allister to accept possession in tight areas from goalkeeper Robert Sanchez or one of the centre-backs to advance the game is reflected in the number of passes he has made and the influential nature of the handful of Premier League midfielders above him. in this category.





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It’s been a gradual process of progression for Mac Allister since he was signed by Argentinos Juniors for £8m ($9.3m) in the January 2019 transfer window and loaned directly to the Buenos Aires club. Areas.

A second loan, to Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors, was due to be for the duration of the 2019-20 season, but Brighton brought him back early, during the January 2020 transfer window.

They secured a work permit and paid Boca around £500,000 in compensation to cut short the loan, then another £175,000 after relegation was avoided in Potter’s first season in charge.

It was difficult for Mac Allister at the start in England. His arrival came shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic led to months of lockdown in the UK and he struggled to establish himself.

“The first year at Brighton was not easy for me,” admits Mac Allister. “I wasn’t playing regularly, then the (Argentina) coach (Lionel Scaloni) decided not to pick me for a few games.

“Then I started playing here and I became a different player: a better player, a better human being. That’s when I said to myself that I was ready to play here and as a team. national.

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“The first year here was very important for me to realize that I had to do more than what I was doing. It wasn’t nice, but that’s what makes good players when you have those lows, trying to pick yourself up and practice every day to be a better player.

Mac Allister’s improvement with Brighton has gone hand in hand with his development as a regular member of Scaloni’s Argentina side this year.

It’s now just a question of how much game time Mac Allister will get at the World Cup after he was, as expected, named in the final 26 squad yesterday.

A hamstring injury suffered by fellow midfielder Giovani Lo Celso while on loan at Villarreal in Spain from Tottenham ruled him out of Qatar 2022, improving Mac Allister’s chances by minutes.

Argentina will hope Mac Allister will help add the World Cup to the Copa America won in 2021 (Photo: Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

He is an alternative for the No.6 spot to Papu Gomez, 34, of Sevilla.

Mac Allister, fearless at the possibility, says: “I grew up playing as a 10 and played for many years in that position, but I feel really good playing as a six.

“Position doesn’t matter to me. The most important thing is to try to help my teammates and help my team win games.

Mac Allister will erase 38 years of family suffering by going to Qatar.

His father Carlos played the full 180 minutes alongside Diego Maradona as Argentina beat Australia 2-1 on aggregate in a November 1993 play-off to qualify for the year’s World Cup next in the United States.

Carlos was not selected for the final by coach Alfio Basile, who resigned after Argentina lost the services of talisman Maradona in a drug scandal midway through the tournament and were subsequently eliminated by Romania in round of 16.

Mac Allister said: “They played the play-off against Australia. They won him, he was in the starting XI, then the manager decided against him.

“It was hard for him. He had been kicked out of the World Cup a week before. All he passed on to me was how important it is to be in a World Cup – that what he was feeling at the time.

“He was so close to getting into the team, but he couldn’t make it, so he wants me to do everything I can and the most important thing is to enjoy it.”

Mac Allister’s presence alongside the talismanic Lionel Messi for the national team is another topic of discussion with his father.

The Brighton man says of Messi, 35, for whom Qatar is likely to be his last World Cup: “He’s my idol. I still have this conversation with my father.

“He played with Maradona, he loves Maradona, but for me Messi is the best player in the world.

“We know how important this World Cup is for him (Messi) and as a team we will do everything we can to lift this cup. We know it may be the last for him, so we will do our best to win it.

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Mac Allister will have another Argentinian for company in Brighton in the New Year.

The signing of 17-year-old attacking midfielder Facundo Buonanotte, currently a teammate of Mac Allister’s older brother Francis at Rosario Central, has already been announced for the January transfer window.

Mac Allister turns 24 on Christmas Eve, six days after the final in Qatar.

It’s not impossible that the great Brighton improver has a World Cup winner’s medal to show his compatriot Buonanotte when he arrives in England.

(Top photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images)

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