‘I want more’: Alexis Mac Allister insists World Cup is just the start

A World Cup winner’s medal could symbolise an ending of sorts to some players, a mission completed, the pinnacle conquered. When Alexis Mac Allister looks at his, and he has done every day since 18 December 2022, he sees the beginning. Argentina’s triumph over France ignited a craving in the Liverpool midfielder that is some way from being satisfied.

The Carabao Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday is Mac Allister’s first opportunity to win a trophy with Jürgen Klopp’s team and the first cup final of his senior club career. There has been success on the international stage of course, from Argentina’s under-23s to the ultimate glory in Qatar, and a league title on loan at Boca Juniors. Mementoes from them all will eventually go in a museum that Mac Allister has planned for the family home. But there is space to fill.

“I definitely want more,” he says, fresh from providing two assists that turned a pulsating night against Luton in Liverpool’s favour on Wednesday. “That is how I am. The World Cup helped me to realise that I really want to win more trophies and so Sunday is a big opportunity. It is what I wanted when I signed for the club. It will be my first final with Liverpool so it is going to be something very special for me and the team. We haven’t been thinking a lot about the final because we have had a lot of games, and Luton was a big one, but now we can think about it and prepare well.”

Mac Allister often finds time to reflect on his greatest achievement, however, and his World Cup medal is a constant source of pride as well as motivation. “I look at it every single day,” he says. “That is what it means to me and to the country as well. It is the biggest game ever for a football player so it is something that I am really proud of and hopefully next week the Carabao Cup medal can be something I will look at as well.

“My plan is to one day create a little museum at home – a room where everything is there. I have a replica of the World Cup, the medal and some more trophies – they are all in a safe place for now – and my plan is to be able to have a place for them where I can always see them.”

Mac Allister has quickly emerged as a leader in the Liverpool team; a quiet and unassuming leader perhaps, but an authority on the pitch all the same. His versatility and game intelligence were two of the main reasons Liverpool made him a priority for their midfield rebuild last summer, when he arrived for a cut-price £35m thanks to a clause in his Brighton contract. Both have helped the team rise to the top of the Premier League and withstand almost constant disruption to the starting lineup.

“It is crazy because since the first day here I really felt a connection that I have not felt at any other club,” he says. “At the other clubs it was about the time it took to settle. Here, from the first day, the people helped me settle very well. I really feel a connection with the fans and the club and I really like it here. It is one of the biggest clubs in the world. Hopefully I will spend many years here.”

The summer signing was one of the more experienced players on display against Luton as Liverpool used seven players aged 21 or under for their latest comeback, yet Mac Allister will not be imparting advice to any youngsters in the buildup to Wembley. “I am still young as well, I’m 25. I think every player and every person is different so I wouldn’t say much to them; they just need to enjoy their football.

Alexis Mac Allister celebrates with his Argentina teammates after his impressive performance in the World Cup final. Photograph: Michael Regan/Fifa/Getty Images

“The World Cup final is the biggest game in the world and of course it gives you a lot of confidence and it definitely helps when you have experience, but it is not the most important thing. You can see players who played a final for the first time and they do very well, like it was for me in the World Cup [Mac Allister supplied the pass for Ángel Di María’s brilliant team goal in the final] so we have to enjoy it. Of course it is an opportunity to win a trophy for this club and that will be special but we need to play the game we want to play.”

The final will bring the midfielder into direct confrontation with his Argentina teammate Enzo Fernández and former Brighton colleague Moisés Caicedo, who were overrun when Chelsea lost 4-1 at Anfield last month. “I do not expect the same game on Sunday as we played here,” says Mac Allister. “They are a good team and they have had a few more days to recover, but it is what it is.”

skip past newsletter promotion

Mac Allister and Caicedo would have remained teammates had Chelsea succeeded in a late move for the former last summer or Liverpool turned the latter’s head with a then British record bid of £111m. “Liverpool was the only chance,” says Mac Allister of his decision. He opted against interfering in Caicedo’s.

“It is a personal decision and I would never be in the middle. That is what he chose and that is completely fine. We’ve not really [had contact since]. When we played against Chelsea I spoke a little bit with him, but not on WhatsApp or social media.

“Maybe he hurt me a little bit with what happened in the summer,” he says with a laugh, “but it is completely fine. He is an amazing player and a really good guy so I wish him all the best every day of his life – but not on Sunday.”

Mac Allister’s mum, Silvina, will be at Wembley while his dad, the former Argentina international defender Carlos, watches at home. “He always watches the games and always says something, not always positive!” says Mac Allister, whose older brothers Francis and Kevin are also professionals. “But that helps me and my brothers a lot because I like it when a person is as honest as he is. I spoke to him the day before the Luton game and he told me to go for it. He knew it was a very important game for me and the club for the rest of the season. His advice was to give 100% and go for everything.” His son, and Liverpool, are obliging.

source: theguardian.com