‘I hesitated a bit’ – Alexis Mac Allister reveals Steven Gerrard role in Liverpool decision
New Liverpool signing Alexis Mac Allister has explained that a conversation with his father about Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard led him to take the club’s vacant no.10 shirt over the former captain’s old no.8.
The Reds’ no.8 jersey is steeped in history as a direct result of Gerrard’s contributions during his 11-season spell donning the digit upon his back, and has only been taken on by one – Naby Keita – since the legends’ departure in 2015.
Unfortunately Keita’s time at the club was marred by injury problems, leaving the club for free this summer without reaching the heights many had hoped to see him reach.
With the shirt vacant, Liverpool’s new £35-million signing explained how a conversation with his father in the build-up to his move from Brighton led to him rejecting Gerrard’s old shirt out of respect and instead took up the mantle of former Anfield talents such as John Barnes, Michael Owen, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane, as well as his Argentine heroes Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona.
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Speaking to The Mirror, he said: “One day, I was talking to my dad when he asked me what number I would wear for Liverpool. I knew there were several numbers available – including 10 and 8. The No 8 shirt is a very important number in that club because of Gerrard, so I hesitated a bit. I ended up choosing the 10, but 8 is a number that I like a lot and has a history at the club.”
The World Cup winner also wore the no.10 for his former club on the south coast over his four-year stint at the Amex Arena, and did so too for his first club, Argentinos Juniors.
Liverpool’s sole signing for far this summer also spoke on the behind-the-scenes talks with Jurgen Klopp that persuaded him to tie his long-term future to the club over rivals such as Manchester United and Chelsea.
“After the season ended, I had the chance to talk to Klopp and he told me about the club, the city and what he wanted,” said Mac Allister. “The main thing was that from the first moment, they communicated with my family and with me, they wanted me to be there.
“When I was able to speak with the coach, it was made even clearer. It’s the small details that made me choose Liverpool. I feel that it is the right step in my career.
“We all know that Klopp likes to play a lot on the counterattack, but in recent years there has been a change in his way of playing. He explained to me that he needed players to play between the lines and with a winning mentality.
“I’ve always had that mentality – but even more so after the World Cup. I want to win titles – that’s the goal that the club and I have.”
Finally, he added: “Liverpool is one of the biggest clubs in Europe and the world. Its history makes it like this.
“The fans demonstrate in each match in the way they show up. But as well as history, there is a team with great players and a great coach. From the first moment, they showed me a lot of desire for me to be there.”
Mac Allister is one of the Reds squad currently on summer leave after taking part in the recent round of international fixtures. He will join up with Klopp and his new team-mates for their pre-season preparations a short time after the Saturday, July 8 date set as the Reds’ return to training.