Origi must battle
Liverpool have added quality in depth over the last season or two, making strides in their bid to turn into genuine Premier League title challengers. The arrivals of Naby Keita and Fabinho in the summer reflect the increasing desire of FSG to put their money where their mouth is, with the owners clearly seeing an opportunity to bridge the gap with Manchester City and vie for some silverware.
Amid that progression, lie individuals unable to break into Jurgen Klopp’s plans, none more so than Divock Origi, whose future at the club has been ambiguous for some time now.
2015/16 marks his best campaign to date, showing sparks of potential as a powerful yet surprising quick forward. Origi worked well within Liverpool’s gegenpressing system that year, forcing the opposition into mistakes high up the pitch while providing a viable option when the team were in possession. Goals in both legs of the Europa League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund were reflective of his growing influence in a season that promised so much for the youngster’s future on Merseyside.
All that was prematurely ended in April 2016 when Funes Mori’s cynical lunge left the Belgian in a heap with a twisted ligament injury. It’s not always easy to identify specific moments in a player’s career that their entire future hinges on, but this was Origi’s.
Missing the remainder of the season bar a short twenty-minute substitute appearance against Sevilla in the Europa League final, his momentum had come to an almighty halt.
The 23-year-old made 14 league starts the following season alongside 20 substitute appearances, only managing a goal every 208 minutes. For context, prior to Mori’s challenge, Origi was averaging a goal every 33 minutes in the best form of his career.
There were still sparks, such as an unlikely goal against Bournemouth when he converted from a seemingly impossible angle, but good performances became few and far between.
Falling further down in the pecking order, Origi ventured to the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg. Albeit stunted by disappointing form, there still appeared to be a light at the end of the tunnel with Jurgen Klopp insisting on a clause to recall the forward in January if required. Perform well and he could well find himself back at Anfield and in favour with the manager once more.
However, a return failed to come to fruition as Origi managed just six goals in 31 appearances. An international career on the outskirts and a club career that had once looked so promising but to be halted by a horror challenge, the Belgian’s future has long been up in the air.
Featuring in Liverpool’s dismal 2-0 defeat against Red Star Belgrade only underlined how far he’s fallen down the pecking order in the last few seasons. Klopp now boasts an impressive array of attacking talent in Salah, Mane, Firmino and Sturridge while Rhian Brewster’s continued success in the academy ranks has earned him a long-term deal and promises of first-team football in the near future. All that makes it incredibly hard to see where Origi could pick up the necessary game time to resurrect his career.
Any road to doing so points away from Anfield, with the forward attracting the interest of Galatasaray and Wolves, who have been linked with a £20m swoop. While his development has been stunted, Origi’s Premier League experience could help manager Nuno Espirito Santo to address a lack of killer instinct in front of goal, providing the perfect opportunity for the player to gain regular minutes and remain in the top flight. As for Liverpool, snapping up £20m for a player who now lies low in the rankings would be fruitful.