Jack Hallows argues that Divock Origi’s future on Merseyside could be determined during Liverpool’s last seven games of the season.
It was back in March/April time last season that Divock Origi really emerged as a talent at Liverpool. The Belgian first showed glimpses of his ability last season with a hat-trick against Southampton in the EFL Cup before an impressive run of games towards the back end of the season saw him become Jürgen Klopp’s go to number 9.
Now, after an up and down season that’s seen him score five goals in five consecutive games only to follow it up with 3 in 19, it’s imperative to the striker’s future that he takes the chance afforded to him by Mané’s injury with both hands.
Time to leave the tag ‘prospect’ behind
Ever since an impressive campaign at the 2014 World Cup with Belgium shot him into the spotlight, Origi has been thought of as one of the brightest prospects in European football and it’s surprising to remember sometimes that he’s only 21 years old. However, there is only so long a footballer can cling to the tag of being an exciting prospect before becoming just another case of untapped potential.
Origi turns 22 in just over two weeks time and while most footballers don’t hit their peak years until their mid-twenties, there is an ever-growing weight of expectation placed on young players by fans, pundit and club staff alike. With pace, height, an eye for goal and an ability to play effectively as both a target man and a versatile forward, Origi has a lot going for him but there’s only so much the coaching staff can do to tap into that combination of traits.
It’s now down to Origi to take the final steps and really push himself back into Klopp’s first team thinking.
Efficient goalscorer or square peg in a round hole?
10 goals in 33 games across 2015/16 was a fairly impressive return in a maiden season of first team football for a club like Liverpool FC – especially when a large percentage of his appearances came off the bench.
Unfortunately, the hope that he would really push on this season has been somewhat deflated. That’s not to say he hasn’t scored goals, in fact, he’s already equalled last season’s total in four fewer appearances and if he has a good run from now through May, Origi could easily break the 15 goal barrier and become the Reds top scorer for the season. The big question is whether he can actually provide the Reds with this good run or not.
The stats suggest he probably will – of Origi’s 10 goals, 8 have come when he starts and his record of scoring every 161 minutes of football he plays makes him Liverpool’s best finisher. However, the issue with statistics is they don’t always paint the full picture. The Belgian was admittedly superb against both Everton and Bournemouth, scoring in both games and ensuring his strength, pace and rekindled drive served him up as a real handful for both defences. However, there’s been question marks all season over the forward’s demeanour when he struggles to turn it on.
When given extended runs in the first team, there’s no doubt that Origi doesn’t disappoint on the goalscoring front. However, it’s his attitude and work rate that has drawn questions. Against Manchester City, the Belgian was brought on to provide an outlet on the right-hand side and inject some extra pace late on but he looked entirely uninterested.