Brighton and Hove Albion have sold their World Cup-winning Argentina international Alexis Mac Allister to Liverpool as widely expected.
The PA news agency said that the midfielder was believed to have signed a five-year contract.
A fee has not been disclosed but it is understood that the 24-year-old had a release clause – believed to be about £45 million – in a contract that he signed last October.
Mac Allister spent four and a half years with Albion and made 112 appearances, scoring 20 goals, including 12 during the 2022-23 season.
Brighton head coach Roberto De Zerbi said: “I’m proud to have been Alexis’s coach. He is a very talented player.
“It has also been a privilege to work with a guy who has strong and traditional values and I want to wish him good luck for the future.”
The club’s chairman Tony Bloom said: “We are incredibly proud of Alexis and we are sad to see him go. He did something very special, becoming the first Brighton and Hove Albion player to win the World Cup, and was a key player in our best-ever season.
“He will always be welcome here at the Amex and in the city. On behalf of all Albion fans, I would like to thank Alexis for the many amazing memories and superb performances in a Brighton shirt and wish him well for the next chapter in his career.”
The 24-year-old joined Albion from Argentinos Juniors in January 2019 before returning to the Buenos Aires club on loan.
He was then called up by the Argentina national team for the first time in August 2019 and made his international debut as a second-half substitute in the 0-0 draw against Chile in Los Angeles.
The versatile midfielder was sent on a season-long loan for the 2019-20 campaign to Boca Juniors and went on to make 19 appearances across the Argentina Super League and Copa Libertadores.
He came back to Brighton at the end of the 2020 winter transfer window, having been recalled by Albion.
He made his debut for the Seagulls in March 2020 in the last match before the first national coronavirus lockdown.
After the restart, Mac Allister was involved in the goal that secured Albion an historic 2-1 win over Arsenal – and from that point he never looked back.
He attracted wider attention in the 2021-22 season, making 33 league appearances and scoring five goals from midfield.
Albion said: “Alexis carried that form through into last season, becoming our first ever World Cup winner in December 2022.
“Having played a major role in Argentina’s success in Qatar, he received a deserved hero’s welcome from team-mates and staff upon his return to the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre in January.
“The fans’ favourite departs after his most impressive campaign in an Albion shirt, featuring in 35 league games as we qualified for European football for the first time in our history, having secured a record high sixth-place finish in the top flight.”
The move is a sign of Liverpool starting to rebuild their midfield, with Mac Allister having been on the club’s radar since before his move to the Seagulls in 2019.
But Liverpool felt that his development was still in its early stages although his versatility to play in several positions was a key factor in their interest. He was again identified as a key target before the winter World Cup in Qatar.
Welcoming back our World Cup winner! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Bb2MoZmf2B
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) January 2, 2023
Mac Allister told liverpoolfc.com: “It feels amazing. It’s a dream come true. It’s amazing to be here and I can’t wait to get started.
“I wanted to be in (from) the first day of pre-season so it’s good that everything is done. I’m looking forward to meeting my team-mates.
“It was a fantastic year for me – World Cup, what we achieved with Brighton – but now it’s time to think about Liverpool and try to be a better player and a better human being every day.
“Since I won the World Cup, I said that I want to win more trophies and I think that this club will help me to do that – that’s the aim and when you are in a big club like this one, you have to win trophies. So, that’s what I want.
“Since I arrived here, I can see how big this club is – the players we have, the staff, everyone. I’m really pleased and looking forward to playing for this club.”