There seems to be a consensus of sort regarding Alexis Mac Allister’s ability to play the No.6 role.
Some fans have suggested that the Argentine simply doesn’t have the tools to be Liverpool’s first-choice holding midfield for the foreseeable future.
Running in tandem with reports around the Reds’ perceived interest in Andre Trindade of Fluminense, the expectation was that Jurgen Klopp’s men would land a new signing in January to free ‘Macca’.
But has our No.10 really been so poor as to justify the club’s recruitment team searching for a new No.6?
Comparing Mac Allister’s numbers to those of Manchester City’s Rodri – arguably the league’s current premier holding midfielder – the former Brighton man isn’t being completely shown up by the stats.
Liverpool are conceding at a rate of 0.8 goals a game when the 24-year-old is on the pitch compared to City’s 0.6 this term when his Sky Blues counterpart is available, as per Transfermarkt.
There are, of course, stats available that go somewhat deeper into each player’s relative importance in the holding midfield role.
Our summer signing contributes more tackles (2.76), blocks (2.35) and interceptions (1.43) per 90 this season than either Rodri or, indeed, Declan Rice, and comes a close second with 7.35 recoveries per 90, as per FBref.
Where the numbers do critically differ to support the aforementioned consensus, however, is in the realm of possession – a key area, it has to be said, for a side transitioning to more possession-based football.
Whilst carrying the ball, Mac Allister has seen himself dispossessed a whopping 11 times in the Premier League this season. That’s three more than Rice (8) and almost double Rodri’s tally (6).
Interestingly, though the £35m signing does appear a more successful challenger out of possession, our World Cup winner completes double the number of unsuccessful attempts to challenge a dribbler (1.94) than his City (0.88) and Gunners (0.88) counterparts.
Fluminense’s Andre has been touted as a potential solution in the January market, though it remains to be seen whether that remains the case following reports that the club is considering alternative options.
If not the Copa Libertadores winner, then who?
To answer that question, Liverpool may need to ask a favour from one of their beloved former players in Xabi Alonso.
Mac Allister will be familiar with our next suggestion in his international teammate, and Bayer Leverkusen star, Exequiel Palacios.
The 25-year-old isn’t as reliable a duel-winner as Andre, but certainly appears as the superior option in that regard to our own resident holding midfielder.
It explains, in part, Leverkusen’s remarkable defensive record in 2023/24, with Alonso’s side having conceded only once more (10) than the German top-flight’s best defence in Bayern Munich (9), joint with RB Leipzig.
The Bundesliga midfielder boasts a higher pass completion rate this term (91.9% vs 87.7%) from a higher total attempted per 90 (100.3 vs 72.8).
Intriguingly, Palacios has only been dispossessed on three occasions compared to Mac Allister’s 11.
A feasible transfer?
We said Liverpool would have to call in a favour, didn’t we? And boy oh boy, would that be a FAVOUR and a half!
The German top-flight outfit has very recently agreed a contract extension with their star midfielder to keep him at the club until the summer of 2028.
Whilst we’re on the subject, reliable Bundesliga reporter Christian Falk said this about the player back in September (via CaughtOffside’s Daily Briefing):
“At Leverkusen they’re very clear that they don’t want any more exits from the club – and that includes Exequiel Palacios despite rumours around Liverpool. Piero Hincapie is another player considered ‘not for sale’.
“Leverkusen are doing very well in the Bundesliga and Palacios is a part of Xabi Alonso’s plans for the campaign.”
Leverkusen will, of course, demand top, top dollar for his services, even if the player’s head were to be turned by the possibility of a January move.
Football Transfers’ transfer valuation system puts Palacios’ value at between £19.1m-£31.9m. Frankly, though, we’d be astonished if the actual price tag wasn’t at least double the highest end of that range.
£60m-plus is a serious amount of money for us to spend after forking out £145.7m for Ryan Gravenberch, Dominik Szoboszlai, Mac Allister and Wataru Endo in the summer.
Ultimately our very own Argentine sensation isn’t performing poorly despite a handful of instances this season exposing his limited recovery pace.
It’s worth highlighting too that it’s remarkable how strong his numbers are despite finding himself in a brand-new midfield at times when Curtis Jones has been unavailable.
It suggests that we shouldn’t be sharpening our pitchforks in a bid to push our coaching staff to shove Mac Allister higher up the pitch just yet (even if his abilities would lend well to a more advanced role).
That said, if the club still remains keen on the prospect of bolstering the midfield once more in January, they could do far worse than going all out for the potentially uber-pricey option of Exequiel Palacios.