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What Jürgen Klopp did at full-time speaks volumes as Liverpool finds new pressing monster

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Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was visibly overjoyed with one Reds star as he lifted him aloft after the final whistle sounded at Wembley to mark the Reds’ Carabao Cup victory.

As the final whistle was blown to confirm Liverpool’s Carabao Cup final success over Chelsea, the sight of Jürgen Klopp lifting up Alexis Mac Allister in a gleeful embrace demonstrated the Argentine’s importance in the Reds’ latest trophy success.

The 25-year-old earned his first winners’ medal since his move from Brighton in the dramatic extra-time victory over the Blues as the Merseysiders clinched the first of four potential trophies on offer this season. Starring for 87 minutes in the showpiece, his contributions formed part of a gutsy team performance as a mix-and-match squad pulled off a memorable 1-0 win.

Although it was captain Virgil van Dijk who showed his experience to clinch the cup for Liverpool with a soaring header in the 118th minute, the efforts of his supporting cast will not be forgotten by the travelling Kop anytime soon. Replaced by youngster James McConnell in normal time, it was clear that MacAllister had set the example to follow for Klopp’s kids with his performance.

It is often remarked that imitation is the finest form of flattery and the academy graduate’s copycat showing after filling the void following the World Cup winner’s withdrawal demonstrated the respect that he already commands within Liverpool’s dressing room. The tireless work of Mac Allister in setting the press in Chelsea’s half meant that his race was run as the clock ticked down in regulation time, such was his commitment.

With Klopp left with seldom option but to bring the midfielder off to save his legs amid the team’s injury crisis before extra time, it was clear that the latter’s work had been noted as Liverpool’s victory was confirmed. Turning straight to the Argentine before lifting the player aloft, there was no doubt that Mac Allister had endeared himself even more to his boss on the night.

In his 29th outing as a Liverpool player, the former Boca Juniors ace has already played his part in bringing silverware to the storied Anfield trophy cabinet. The manner in which he did so at Wembley will leave his manager and whoever succeeds him in no doubt that he can form part of future successes on the pitch.

Having already formed a focal part of Argentina’s fabled World Cup-winning team in 2022, it was clear from the off that Mac Allister was unfazed by the task in front of him versus Chelsea. In fact, he rose to the occasion, setting the all-important press for Klopp’s team in a leader’s performance.

The numbers from his display demonstrate the strength of his showing in the final, as he led the way in terms of tackles in the game with four, coming in second in terms of duels won too — winning 10 out of 15 attempts. Crucially, his defensive work also enabled him to be an important playmaker for the Reds and he created more chances than any player on the pitch with three.

It remains to be seen whether Liverpool can sustain its charge on the remaining three fronts this campaign, but there is no doubting the importance of the Argentine if they are to pull off what would be one of the greatest achievements in English football history. In nearly nine months since signing from Brighton, it is clear that Mac Allister has well and truly bought into Klopp’s ethos.

The German famously called counter-pressing ‘the best playmaker in the world’ and it is clear that the star from Santa Rosa is a man of his manager’s heart. Every game from now until the end of the season will feel like a cup final for Liverpool but with a player like Mac Allister in his arsenal, Klopp will know that he has a disciple on the pitch who will execute his principles without fail and to great effect.

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