Divock Origi stepped in to leave his mark against West Ham United on Wednesday. He proved that Liverpool will struggle to replace him.
It was always going to be either Takumi Minamino or Origi against West Ham. In the end, it was Origi – and good thing, too.
The Belgian started from the left but frequently drifted inside to switch with Roberto Firmino. He was far more of an inside-forward, then, than Sadio Mane, the man he replaced.
It was a difficult game, though. West Ham pretty much defended for 90 minutes, rarely even mustering a counter-attack. There was next to no space in behind and little room in the box.
Origi somehow found some of the latter, though. With about ten minutes to go before half-time, Firmino found Origi just a few yards from goal. Liverpool’s #27 sorted out his feet quickly, forcing a foul and winning a penalty.
Mohamed Salah dispatched it and Liverpool led.
It doesn’t seem like much but Origi really was a difference-maker there. His movement and awareness won the penalty which broke West Ham down.
Having a player on the bench who can come on and influence a game like that is a real luxury. Even more so when said player barely even features.
Origi has played just 492 minutes in the Premier League this season (per Whoscored). That’s just under 5-and-a-half games worth of playing time and yet he never kicks up a fuss.
He’ll want to play more, obviously, but plays his role to nigh-on perfection. Origi is the ultimate squad option, capable of waiting for his chance and then filling in wherever Jurgen Klopp needs him to be in that forward line.
Left-wing? He can play it. Centre-forward? He’s strong there. Origi will even play as a more out-and-out striker in a 4-2-3-1. And he does it in a different style to the other options, able to play a more physical game thanks to his height.
On top of all that, he comes up with big moments when Liverpool need them. You can’t really ask for more.
And yet, they’ll almost certainly replace him. There is a hunt for a new forward, after all. Squad cover and a need for a new generation means Liverpool will look – and Origi will be the one to lose out.
But finding a player who is so good at playing second-fiddle will be very, very difficult. A big signing won’t settle for that.
So Liverpool should count themselves lucky that a £10m signing in 2014 has been able to deliver what he has.