Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp heaped praise on Alexis Mac Allister, who thrived again in an unfamiliar holding midfield role against Bournemouth on Sunday. The Reds ran riot at the Vitality Stadium, scoring four second-half goals in a 4-0 win to move five points clear in the Premier League title race.
Mac Allister started as a pair of braces from Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota sealed an eye-catching triumph to send a message to Manchester City and Arsenal.
The 25-year-old has been directly impacted by Liverpool’s lack of natural defensive midfielders following the departures of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and James Milner in the summer.
He has often been used as the holder in Klopp’s midfield three since his £55million switch from Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer, sharing the role with £16m capture Wataru Endo.
And Mac Allister has helped fuel Liverpool’s somewhat unexpected challenge for a record-levelling 20th league title this season.
After the Bournemouth victory, Klopp waxed lyrical about the Argentine World Cup winner’s continued contributions.
“Obviously, I’m part of the discussions; let me say it like this. I’ve known this boy since the summer – well, I’ve known of him from before that – and he didn’t play as a single No. 6 at Brighton,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“But he’s an incredibly smart player, incredibly smart, and as look as you can play in a compact formation, Macca is an outstanding No. 6. You can all tell me what you want, he’s an outstanding No. 6.
“On the ball, better than all sixes you can imagine. Against the ball, he’s really strong. Is the pitch too big? Are the half-spaces too open?
“Yeah, I don’t know who a lot of sixes are, then great. There might be a few who come off on the defensive side better. But the game he played today was absolutely outstanding.
“First half he saved our backsides a couple of times when we were really going for it. Second half, he’s just involved. He’s so calm on the ball and everything. He’s a really good player.”
Mac Allister has made 22 appearances in all competitions this season, featuring in all 16 Premier League games he’s been available for.
He ran the midfield show against Bournemouth, taking 95 touches, completing 87 per cent of his 69 passes and creating four chances.
Mac Allister also completed five of his nine attempted long balls and contested 17 ground duels, 12 of which he won on top of two successful aerial battles.
The Reds’ No. 10 also made nine tackles, three interceptions and drew three fouls on the south coast.