Brighton and Hove Albion chief executive Paul Barber is confident his side can keep hold of Alexis Mac Allister, despite the midfielder being a man in demand after playing a big part in Argentina’s World Cup triumph.
Mac Allister started six of Argentina’s seven games in Qatar, including Sunday’s penalty shoot-out victory against France at Lusail Stadium in a thrilling final that finished 3-3 after extra time.
The 23-year-old assisted Angel Di Maria’s strike at the end of a superb team move that put Argentina two goals up in the first half, having also opened the scoring in his side’s must-win final group game against Poland.
Mac Allister signed a new deal with Brighton in October, with the option for the club to extend it by a further year, and Barber does not expect the former Boca Juniors loanee to depart anytime soon.
“We were working on a new contract for Alexis in the build-up to the World Cup,” Barber told talkSPORT. “We met Alexis’ father [Carlos] several times. He himself played for Argentina with [Diego] Maradona no less, so there’s a fantastic family history to playing for their country.
“As we’ve always said, when players do well, when their profile increases, there’s always going to be interest in them. This will be no different; Alexis is no different. There was interest in him before the World Cup and I’m sure there will be more interest in him afterwards.
“All we can do in situations where you’ve got a great asset is to try and protect yourself as best as possible. We’ve done that with several of our players and staff over the last several years, and that’s all you can do in these situations. We hope Alexis will continue to be playing for us for some time to come.”
Champion of the world. pic.twitter.com/dzV5XkOJtw
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) December 19, 2022
Mac Allister is due to fly back to Argentina with the rest of his team-mates to celebrate their first World Cup success in 36 years, something Barber says he has no issue with despite a packed fixture list coming up.
“We would be a very poor club [to deny him the chance to return to Argentina],” Barber told BBC Sport. “On the other hand, we’ve got games coming up thick and fast and one of the downsides of the Qatar World Cup is that we haven’t yet even completed half a season.
“We’ve actually got a lot of work to do now and Alexis will be a big part of that. We’re all looking forward to it very much.”
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