Brighton chief executive Paul Barber admits it will be difficult to keep Alexis Mac Allister at the club after his incredible World Cup.
Mac Allister was one of the stars of the tournament for winners Argentina and made an especially eye-catching assist in the final for Angel Di Maria’s goal.
He is just 23-years-old and sure to have attracted the attention of the biggest clubs in Europe with his displays, and Barber knows what that likely means.
“He will be sought after, we’re very aware of that, but we hope to keep him here as long as we can,” Barber told BBC Sport.
“Of course, when staff and players do well, as we’ve seen in the last few months, they do attract the interest of other big clubs.
“These are clubs that are wealthier and have the chance to give players a new level, we understand that and we’re not naive to that.
“All we can do is protect ourselves the best we can through the contracts and hope we can hold on to the player for as long as possible, but this is a young man who has just won the World Cup at 23 and set up arguably one of the most iconic goals in World Cup history.
While the narrative was about Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, it was actually Brighton star Alexis Mac Allister who was voted man of the match in the World Cup final by BBC viewers.
For Barber, that was great to see, and he says anyone who does manage to prise the midfielder from Brighton’s clutches will be getting an excellent character as well as a top player.
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“On the BBC website he was voted player of the match, which is incredible for a 23-year-old in his first World Cup, having only recently broken into Argentina’s team,” said Barber.
“To perform at that level and get an assist as well, a superb assist, was an incredible moment for him and his family and for our club as well.
“I didn’t speak to him [after the game] but I sent a message and didn’t expect for one minute to get a reply because I’m sure he was inundated.
“But, typical of Alexis the player and the man, he replied overnight and thanked me and everyone at the club for the good wishes and all the support he received from the club in the tournament.
“That’s Alexis, he’s humble, he’s down to earth and comes from a great family. I couldn’t be more delighted for them; they’re really nice people and deserve the success.”