A storm was brewing when Alexis Mac Allister finally arrived as an Albion player.
Storm Dennis to be precise – following last weekend’s Storm Ciara.
It was February 2020 and we thought these weather events would be the extent of our worries.
Mac Allister had left the Argentinian summer with a secured work permit and a shortened loan from Boca Juniors.
Albion didn’t have a game this weekend due to the split “winter break”.
The training complex was quiet this Saturday morning but Mac Allister walked out under a threatening sky and ran a little.
He posed for a few photos and went in to talk to The Argus and do a few other little things.
His father Carlos was there too, carrying the kit needed to make mate and they protected themselves from the elements.
A challenging time to arrive but the storms were just the beginning.
Mac Allister had to wait for his chance in the Premier League.
When he got it he had 13 fairly lively minutes as a sub at Wolves.
Then everything stopped. Fifteen weeks without football, training or anything really because of the lockdown.
He was stuck at home (it just wasn’t really “home” yet), although he wanted to meet his colleagues, work with Graham Potter and his associates, get to know the city and its people, and have a steak LatinoAmerica, building on these 13 minutes in Molineux.
And fly back to Argentina in mid-May.
Perhaps this all explains why Potter believes Mac Allister’s personality and strength of character to be his greatest qualities.
If you want a public example of that, go back to Wolverhampton – late last season when he stepped forward to bury a second penalty after saving a first.
He’s still only 23 but plays, plays and talks much older (except when he laughs when he sounds like a kid).
Known as No. 10 but after playing far from attack at times with Boca he has settled into a central, deeper midfield position.
The “steering wheel”, as they say in South America.
An “octopus,” as his brother Francis puts it, so called in Argentina because he seems to have arms and legs all over him when he’s suffocating opponents.
Pulpo (octopus) Mac Allister? Nobody here calls Alexis that.
“They will,” replies Francis, who plays in midfield for Rosario Central.
On Sunday, he enjoyed his best hour and a half with two great goals (one of which was notoriously disallowed) and a well-executed penalty.
Also notable is that he pushed his team forward from midfield and fought for possession after playing with a yellow card from the 12th minute.
Potter has been asked a few times about Mac Allister’s current role, most recently on Sunday.
H said: “We always felt that Alexis could play this role with his intelligence.
“He came to the club as a 10 to play that role the way he did and linking up with the back three is a small change for him.
“He has the intelligence to deal with it and the responsibility.
“The personality is amazing. That was always his greatest strength as a character, in my opinion.
“He can go forward from there. He wins his duels.
“I thought he was great (against Leicester).”
Speaking to ole.com.ar in Argentina last January, Mac Allister said: “There were times when things weren’t going so well for me, but I realized football couldn’t affect my personal life.
“Of course it was hard being far away from my home, my family, my friends, but I always have my girlfriend here and our little dog, which we recently adopted and he also helps us a lot.
“I started to worry more about my life off the pitch and from there everything started to flow on the football pitch.”
Mac Allister played deeper roles at Manchester City last season (when Yves Bissouma was suspended) and at home in the second half at West Ham (when Bissouma was withdrawn).
He did well there in his first friendly as highlighted by The Argus at the time and seemed a decent option given Bissouma’s move to Tottenham.
But that was a friendly against Estoril. That’s the premium.
Mac Allister said: “I’ve played wide and as a left midfielder at times and I think that helped me a lot to understand the game.
“I took it as an apprentice, more as if I played better or worse in that position.”
Mac Allister has always said he likes being in the middle and staying on the ball.
As No. 6 or No. 5 as they say in Argentina, he’s definitely in the thick of things.
And then come the set pieces.
Free-kick goals were a rarity for Albion but he was infallible late on against Leicester.
Potter said, “He has that quality.
“He’s been practicing. The fifth goal is the result of practice.
“Alexis had to wait for his time and he had to be disappointed and support the team from the side.
“You’re seeing the performance today (by Mac Allister and Moises Caicedo).
“I think they embody what the team and the group is about.”
https://www.theargus.co.uk/sport/20991714.brighton-argentinas-alexis-mac-allister-plays-lead-role/?ref=rss Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton and Argentina stars