Liverpool has found a new 'number six' as Jürgen Klopp pulls off genius position change


Liverpool's summer transfer window was dominated by speculation about the club's pursuit of a 'number six'. After having lost Fabinho, it came as a surprise when Jürgen Klopp seemed to have 'only' replaced him with Wataru Endō.

Many had expected the Japanese international to only be a back-up solution in the number six position for Liverpool. And perhaps that is why some have viewed Ryan Gravenberch as someone who could be used in that more defensive role, having previously played as a holding midfielder in a double pivot.

But that is not the best position of Graveberch, especially in this Liverpool system. He is much more of a Dominik Szoboszlai-style midfielder, who thrives playing box-to-box and who brings the best out of a team by roaming forward with exciting runs.

Instead, it's another new acquisition who is showing signs of being molded into a number six, in what can only be described as a genius move from Klopp.

In recent weeks it has become apparent that Alexis Mac Allister, who was previously mostly used as a number eight at Brighton, has slowly but surely been transitioned into a number six for Liverpool — largely out of necessity.

In the last few games, away at Chelsea, at home to Bournemouth and Aston Villa, Mac Allister, has often been the deepest-lying midfielder in Liverpool's system. The only exception to that rule was when Endō started the game against Newcastle United.

It's not an entirely new position for Mac Allister. In the past, he did play in that role even at Brighton. But in general, he has mostly been used as a more advanced playmaker and a box-to-box type player rather than someone who will sit back and dictate the game from deep.

But despite not being that familiar with the role, Mac Allister has thrived. If anything playing him a little bit deeper where he can utilize his distribution best makes sense for Liverpool. On top of that, what has become apparent in the last few games is that he has it in him to be a destroyer as well.

So far, Mac Allister has made the most tackles and interceptions for Liverpool (15) in the Premier League. This is all the more impressive considering he has only completed one 90 minutes for the club so far.

He has especially been really effective in controlling the middle of the park, making seven tackles in the middle of the pitch, the most by any other Liverpool player. This has been effective in thwarting dangerous transitions for Liverpool, which often caught out Klopp's side, particularly last season.

On top of that, he has also made 26 recoveries, which is the second most for Liverpool joint alongside Dominik Szoboszlai. But again the fact that Mac Allister has played almost 60 minutes less than the Hungarian makes this all the more impressive.

Much was made of Mac Allister's ability on the ball when he first arrived at Liverpool. He's stood out in terms of his ball retention as well, averaging 50.6 completed passes per 90, which is the most by any Liverpool midfielder in the Premier League. But so far, where he has stood out the most has been his ability to reprise and recover the ball for Liverpool.

Many doubted Klopp this summer in terms of his decision to not sign another holding midfielder, but the Liverpool boss seemed adamant, and based on Mac Allister's showing so far, he has been proven right.

Klopp doesn't need another number six when he already had Mac Allister at his disposal. Then there is Endō, and on top of that Stefan Bajčetić and Thiago Alcântara, to come, who can all deputize for the Argentine in that role.

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