Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admits they have not had time to properly assess where World Cup-winner Alexis Mac Allister fits into their side.
The Argentina midfielder has started all seven of the club’s Premier League fixtures since arriving from Brighton in a cut-price £35million deal, but has been deployed in the nominal holding role after the departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho to Saudi Arabia left them short in that department.
Mac Allister has shown he is far more effective further forward in one of the attacking midfield positions, and while he has done a job for Klopp, it appears unlikely he is the long-term solution.
He was even substituted at half-time of the win at Wolves, having flown back from Bolivia after the international break after looking well off the pace.
“We didn’t even look for his best position yet. We just use him,” he said.
“He is a fantastic player, I love everything about him: super-smart tactically and off the pitch as well, so that is really nice to work with.
“If we as a team defend well, he can play definitely the number six. Did I know that before? I had a guess but I was not sure because I did not know exactly how all the other boys would do defending.
“Because we defend more compact and better than in our bad phases last year, we have small spaces and then it is really good because he sees the situations really well.
“He is a midfielder and I am happy about having him.”
Mac Allister is one-third of a midfield rebuild this summer with Dominik Szobozslai the other mainstay after his £60m arrival from RB Leipzig.
Forward Cody Gakpo, another new signing Wataru Endo – the one genuine number six in the squad – and Curtis Jones have filled the other space in midfield in Premier League matches this season.
However, the gradual emergence of Ryan Gravenberch, a deadline-day arrival from Bayern Munich, points towards the 21-year-old staking a claim to be the third man alongside Mac Allister and Szobozslai, who are destined to be locked in for the long term.
The Dutchman scored his first goal in the 2-0 Europa League victory over Union Saint Gilloise as his integration into the side – he has started three non-Premier League games but has only been a substitute at weekends – continues to grow apace.
For a relative youngster, Gravenberch has a certain presence on the pitch and Klopp expects him to grow further with more experience.
“Raw power – I am not sure a lot of people would have described him in the past like that,” said the manager.
“He is technically incredibly good. The first touch is insane, the speed is top class, really good shooter.
“Yes he came late and yes we play slightly different and yes he needs time to adapt, and that is what we can give him, thank God.
“He is completely happy with that and in the groove; he realises in each training sessions he is treated completely like others, if he starts or not.
“He has had assists in the other games and now he has his first goal. Now it is good, long may it continue, he is very important for us.”