RISING star Alexis Mac Allister has come a long way since his day trip to Lancing this time last year.

The attacking midfielder with the Scottish sounding surname flew over last January to complete formalities, sign his four-and-a-half year contract, have a look around the training complex, do some media work and pop to the club shop on the way back to the airport.

Then he went back to humidity and 30degC and battling it out with struggling Argentinos Juniors at the wrong end of the table.

The option is now there for Albion to have him onboard to play for them by the end of the month after they secured a work permit.

Despite the name, Mac Allister does not have EU qualification, although there is some Italian connection if you go back a long way.

Albion fans have had to follow from afar as he secured what was a dream move to his beloved Boca Juniors midway through 2019.

They witnessed him scoring with the help of a deflection in the Copa Libertadores and make a name for himself in the famous gold and blue, often operating wide on the left and cutting in.

They also noted he had made his senior Argentina debut, when several seniors were ruled out, as a result of his early season form.

But no one quite knew whether Albion would ever have permission to use him.

Until very recently, the club believed their best chance may open up if and when immigration laws are changed post-Brexit.

There has also been talk of him being “just a couple of caps” from securing a visa through his on-field feats.

Fine in theory, in practice, he was only just getting into the senior squad and faced fierce competition for playing time.

Mac Allister made the most recent squad as a last minute call-up for the injured Roberto Pereyra and remained on the bench for two friendlies.

That was with Leo Messi back from suspension and that is some competition for a young player to face if he is break into an international team.

Meanwhile, Mac Allister was loving life with Boca, even as they endured a tough season, and the new coach has spoken about using him just behind the centre forward.

He has also made an eventful start to the Olympic qualifying tournament in Colombia, scoring, setting a goal up and being sent off in the 2-1 win over Colombia.

All this against a backdrop of Albion looking in increasing need of some creativity.

The picture started to change on Monday when those close to Mac Allister let it known their man had secured his UK work permit.

Albion took an opportunity that arose to put his case in front of The FA’s panel. The thinking was to get the permit to keep all options open in this transfer window.

A well-placed source this side of the Atlantic was keen to emphasise that, as things stand, Mac Allister is still on loan to Boca for the season That will have come as a disappointment to the Twitter follower who, on being advised there would be two changes to the side at Bournemouth last night, replied: “Mac Allister??????????”

Hard to tell whether it was serious or humour.

But news of red tape being cut through clearly had plenty of Albion fans buzzing as it was confirmed yesterday.

Albion will have to pay to free Mac Allister from his loan arrangement ahead of its scheduled expiry in the summer.

How much is not clear but figures being mentioned in Buenos Aires are far from prohibitive.

Will they choose to do it? Remember Albion were under different management on the pitch when Mac Allister signed.

The suspicion has to be they will go ahead and do it.

And how good will he be? He has shown up well for Boca but Argentinean, and indeed South American, club football is widely regarded to be weaker than it was.

As with Percy Tau, Albion have not yet been able to see Mac Allister in a training session.

A source from TyC Sports television in Argentina, who first alerted The Argus to the work permit breakthrough in the early hours of yesterday, reckons he will make the grade.

He told us: “I think he is a very good player. Young, creative, he strikes the ball very well. I think he could be a player of the main national team.”

We will see. But the window suddenly got more interesting.