Alexis Mac Allister reveals how close he was to leaving Brighton during 'difficult moment' and what Graham Potter said to him
Brighton's Argentinian star Alexis Mac Allister has made the most of his recent opportunities but it has not always been easy for the playmaker
"Be patient and keep working hard" is something Alexis Mac Allister would have heard an awful lot during the last 18 months.
The 23-year-old midfielder has had to battle more than most for minutes on the pitch in the Premier League this season and his two goals against Everton were just reward for his perseverance.
Mac Allister, who arrived in 2019 for £7m, has indeed had to be 'patient' for his chances and has made just five starts for Graham Potter in the top flight this term.
He scored from the bench on the opening day of the season at Burnley and netted a consolation - again from the bench - in the 4-1 home loss to Man City.
His opportunities however continued to be limited as he battled for midfield game time with Jakub Moder, Pascal Gross, Yves Bissouma, Adam Lallana, Steven Alzate, Enock Mwepu and Leo Trossard.
Mac Allister though has now started the last three Premier League matches and helped ninth placed Albion to a 2-0 win against Brentford, an impressive away draw at Chelsea, followed by a 3-2 win at Everton - where Mac Allister scored twice.
Albion's No 10 seems to have grasped his chance and more than deserves a starting role for a crunch clash against old rivals Crystal Palace at the Amex Stadium this Friday night.
Mac Allister admits it's been a testing time since arriving in Brighton in 2019. Settling into a new culture, a new language, the uncertainty of covid and a lack of minutes on the pitch all took a toll and made him consider his future.
"Yes," said the former Boca Juniors man when asked if he considered leaving the club.
"It is hard when a player does not play because we all want to play. Sometimes we have to understand that there is a team and a manager.
"They make decisions that you have to accept and train. I am 23 years old, I need to play and I want to play.
"But I am now happy here. It is a very good club and they have always supported. I kept going and I kept trying to train hard and it is nice to get some minutes and to score and to help the team."
Mac Allister insists he has never been the type of character content to sit on the sidelines and said he had regular conversations with head coach Graham Potter to find out why he was not in the team and what he could do to change the situation.
"We always try to speak because I think it is important to know what is going on.
"We spoke a few times. He explained to me I was training really well but it is just decision he has to take.
"I accepted it, I trained hard and I got my possibilities to play. That was good.
"Graham always told me I was training well. But he has to take decision, maybe depends on the other team, or a teammate is better than me and we have to accept it. I always think about playing and to train well and I did it."
Mac Allister is known for his creativity and eye for goal but what has also impressed - and perhaps finally convinced Potter - is his willingness to scrap and fight for the team.
"I have had to work physically," added Mac Allister. "That is one of the things I have worked more on. I came from a good league in Argentina but physically it is not as hard as here.
"Here the first year was tough but after that I felt I was settled and ready to play in the Premier League."
Mac Allister has also helped Albion secure a number of late goals and vital points over the last two season. Against Palace the Argentine swooped to net a late leveller in a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park in October 2020 and at the start of this campaign his late strike secured three points in a 2-1 win at Burnley.
Albion have also struck late this season at Palace, West Ham, Southampton and Chelsea.
"We always try to attack, we always try to keep the ball and sometimes we don't get the goals in the early minutes because the other team defends and knows what we are.
"But sometimes they get tired and we approach and create opportunities. It is good to score in the first minute of course but for us it is the same to score in the first minute or the 90th.
"We keep going in every match."
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