By Ed Elliot, PA
Brighton captain Lewis Dunk insists “humble” Argentina star Alexis Mac Allister will not be changed by World Cup glory alongside Lionel Messi.
Albion midfielder Mac Allister starred for his country in Qatar as they were crowned champions following victory over France in the final.
The creative 24-year-old is nearing a return to Premier League action for Roberto De Zerbi’s Seagulls, having been granted leave to celebrate the success in his homeland.
Defender Dunk is looking forward to welcoming back his team-mate, who is expected in Sussex this week, and does not believe his attitude will have been altered by winning football’s ultimate prize.
“We’ve spoken to him and congratulated him – what an achievement,” Dunk said of Mac Allister.
“He’s a humble guy, a great guy to have in the squad and what a player. He showed his worth in the World Cup and we’re all buzzing for him.
“We can’t wait to have him back in the squad and to be ready to play for us again because he brings a lot to us.
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) December 18, 2022
“I don’t think it will change anything. He’s a down-to-earth kid, he’s a hard worker.
“He’s won the World Cup and we’re all delighted for him, he’s delighted, so I don’t think it will change anything when he comes back here.
“I think he will be ready to go again, keep learning off this manager and keep improving as an individual and as a team.”
Mac Allister was an unused substitute for Argentina’s shock opening defeat to Saudi Arabia in the Middle East but started the following six matches, scoring once.
He played 116 minutes in the thrilling 3-3 final draw with France, which ended with talismanic captain Messi lifting the trophy following a penalty shoot-out victory.
“We’re going to get all the stories off him when he gets back,” added Dunk.
“We’ve just spoken in the group chat and are all buzzing for him. I just want to hear about the celebrations!”
In Mac Allister’s absence, Brighton beat Southampton 3-1 on Boxing Day but lost 4-2 to Arsenal on New Year’s Eve.
Thank you for your superb support tonight and throughout 2022. 💙👏 pic.twitter.com/U2eGjFyzdk
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) December 31, 2022
Ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Everton, Dunk reflected on a memorable 2022 for the Sussex club, which included a first top-half Premier League finish, and believes the future is bright.
“I think it has been a really good year for the club,” said the 31-year-old centre-back.
“We had our best-ever finish last season (ninth place) and then started this season really well. It shows what the club is doing and that we’re building something good here.
“I am glad to be a part of this club and hopefully we can have even more success next year.”