The Next Alonso
After a good but not great start to life at Anfield, Liverpool’s new starting midfielder, Alexis Mac Allister, is now finally adjusting to his new footballing environment. This past weekend’s game against Nottingham Forest saw the controlling midfielder dominate possession of the ball in a deeper lying role, one that he appears to be adjusting to. Ultimately, the introduction of an elite level holding midfielder will only enhance the teams on pitch endeavours (including that of Alexis), however, it was interesting to see how confident the Argentina World Cup winner was at Anfield this past Sunday.
The graphic below shows the average player positions for each of the starting eleven, within a game where domination was evident and assured throughout a one-sided contest.
Trent staying a bit wider gave him more space. https://t.co/4nGQEGWzts
— Dave Hendrick (@HendrickD82) October 29, 2023
In allowing the 24-year-old more ownership of how the team instigates attacks from deep (against Forest), it saw Trent Alexander Arnold being tasked that bit wider onto the right flank. By previously attempting to facilitate two ball-hungry playmakers in that vital middle ground, was perhaps undermining the influence of the 21-cap Argentina international. As the game evolved, I was relieved to see our vice-captain being given instructions to hold a wider position, thereby allowing each player more zonal control. Ultimately, the more we control games, the more freedom our hybrid player can inevitably have. At this moment where a destructive midfielder isn’t being called upon (Wataru Endō, for instance), the opposition are often gifted that big chance that can punish our attack-minded Reds, however, I do not see this strategy as a long-term option, but more another building block to where we want to be.
What Type of Midfield Will We See in The Future…?
It is clear that above all else, a bone-crushing defensive midfielder was very much desired in the Summer of Change in 2023. In signing Fabinho from Monaco in 2018, it gave the previous incarnation of the Reds, the final elite piece that allowed every major trophy to be won. By selling the regressed version of the once world-class Brazilian (in July of this year), it allowed the recruitment team to table a world record £115 million bid for Brighton’s former enforcer, Moisés Caicedo. I have no doubt that if Jörg Schmadtke had been successful in attaining the former Albion man, then the partnering of the Ecuadorian with his former midfield partner, Alexis, would have taken the Reds to the top of the current Premier League standings. By not signing either him or the Southampton alternative, Roméo Lavia (both now at Chelsea), I am convinced that a player with a similar profile will be sought in the January window, so that a full-fledged assault on the campaign can be undertaken. In this scenario where the likes of Cheick Doucouré, Manu Koné, Florentino Luís, or Lucas Gourna-Douath, are signed, it may facilitate the perfect balance, to replicate the most outstanding Liverpool midfield of the modern era.
Alexis Mac Allister
I do not think to compare the current and prospective players on the left-hand side with those on the right, is too outlandish. To focus in on what the 5ft 9-inch Alexis could offer, very much has me reminiscing of what Xabi Alonso once delivered. With an elite ability to control tempo and recycle possession with a high-level footballing IQ, I believe he would be the perfect controller between a destructive Cheick Doucouré (type) and the box-to-box powerhouse, Dominik Szoboszlai. Each listed player offers the ideal combination of skill and tenacity, which is a blend that could also allow the likes of Ryan Gravenberch, Curtis Jones, and Stefan Bajčetić, to cover each position in the order listed. Alongside the experienced depth of Thiago Alcântara and Wataru Endō, I believe Liverpool are one enforcer away from having the best midfield group in the league.
We have now seen a glimpse of the sensation that Alexis can become. All I want now is to see that January addition allow him to be unleashed fully, so that Liverpool’s number 10 can have the same impact that our former Champions League winning hero, Xabi Alonso, once had.
📊 | Alexis Mac Allister vs Nottingham Forest:
• Accurate Passes – 67/83
• Chances Created – 1
• Successful Dribbles – 1/1
• Final 3rd Passes – 12
• Clearances – 1
• Interceptions – 1
• Recoveries – 12
• Ground Duels Won – 7/12
• Aerial Duels Won – 1/1 pic.twitter.com/cGxlctNvda
— LFC Transfer Room (@LFCTransferRoom) October 29, 2023