Divock Origi: Seven years of Liverpool’s Belgian for the big occasion

JAMES NOBLE on Divock Origi’s time at Liverpool, the Belgian’s achievements and what lies in wait.

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Divock Origi joined Brendan Rodgers’ Reds as a 19-year-old from Lille for £9.8m on July 29, 2014 – a matter of weeks after the conclusion of a World Cup in which he had impressed with Belgium.

He would immediately return to the French club on loan for the following season but, since 2015/16, the forward’s Liverpool career has proven thoroughly intriguing.

That Origi is a figure of somewhat unique status – at Liverpool and beyond – feels relatively widely agreed.

This is because he is – it also feels reasonable enough to say – a club legend in some aspects.


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Yet, simultaneously, he has rarely been viewed as a starter in the five seasons he has spent in and around the Liverpool squad.

He remains an immensely popular figure and yet it is the opinion of many that it would now be best for him and the club to part ways.

He feels different. He is, in many ways, different. He is, after all, one of just 12 footballers to have scored in a European Cup final for Liverpool.

Origi has several physical, technical and mentality-based attributes that have been displayed in such big moments over the years – and should mean he can still be a pertinent weapon in several contexts.

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As he has been already of course – in his Anfield career of 157 games and 35 goals to date.

It feels possible to divide Origi’s Anfield career into relatively distinct phases. That is a process, admittedly, which does paint the picture of a player becoming increasingly peripheral.

There is the Origi of the autumn of 2015. A player who had just come off a campaign in France where he was somewhat harshly named in L’Equipe’s Ligue 1 worst team of the season.

This was, admittedly, a player who looked notably short on both confidence and an ability to influence matches in his four appearances prior to Rodgers’ departure in early October, and who then stepped up to a degree upon Jürgen Klopp’s arrival.

There is the Origi of December 2015 to April 2016.

A player who looked to have his mojo back. This was a spell kicked-off by a hat-trick in the 1-6 League Cup quarter-final win at Southampton and which concluded with him scoring five goals in five games – including goals in both legs of the Europa League quarter-final blockbuster with Borussia Dortmund and in a 4-0 Merseyside Derby victory.

This spell was brought to an end by an ankle injury induced by a dangerously high Ramiro Funes Mori challenge in the second half of that derby.

It earned the Argentinian defender a red card and ended Origi’s season, keeping him out of the upcoming Europa League semi-final and final.

This version of Origi arguably remains the most impressive in all-round terms.

He only turned 21 a couple of days prior to that derby and this was a player who Klopp appeared to view as first choice to lead the line in the 4-2-3-1 employed for most of the latter part of 2015/16.

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His pacy darts in behind, directness, willingness to press from the front and physical presence made him an immensely rounded threat come spring 2016.

The injury cut him off in his stride. He may well have not been first choice in the following campaign either way, but it does feel like we’ve seen that 2015/16 Origi exceedingly rarely since – something that may partially relate to the system change to 4-3-3 as well as to any long-term effects on form or fitness.

2016/17 – the season where Origi made his most appearances in a campaign to date, 43 – saw him make key contributions in spurts.

He scored five in five following an injury to Philippe Coutinho in late November and then – after Sadio Mané’s season was ended by an injury of his own in the April 1 Merseyside derby – Origi came off the bench to score the third in a 3-1 win.

He then started seven of the eight remaining league games – and scored twice more – as the Reds sealed a top-four finish.

Despite his sizeable contribution in 2016/17 – particularly in the latter weeks – the summer of 2017 saw him go on loan to German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg.

They narrowly avoided relegation from the German top-flight in 2017/18 and – when Origi returned to Merseyside at the start of 2018/19 – he suddenly represented something of a forgotten man.

Indeed, it was only his second substitute appearance of the season – his first at Anfield – when he took to the field in the second half of the December 2 Merseyside derby.

This is where his Reds career took off again – and arguably took on a whole new dimension.

He increasingly represented the man who rocked up with a big goal when it was most needed.

After hitting the bar from point-blank range a few minutes earlier, he was on hand to capitalise on Jordan Pickford’s misjudgement of Virgil van Dijk’s looping volley to nod home the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time and send Anfield barmy.

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There were goals in a 2-1 FA Cup third round defeat at Wolves in January and a 5-0 home success against Watford at the end of the following month.

Then four in the Reds’ final four games. Four seismic ones. Four career-definers, it feels fair to say.

He came off the bench to flick home Xherdan Shaqiri’s free kick and seal a 2-3 win at Newcastle that ensured the title race with Manchester City went to the final day.

That double in the breathtaking 4-0 Champions League semi-final second-leg victory over Barcelona.

Then, 25 days later, that thumping left-footed finish which secured a 2-0 win over Spurs in Madrid and Liverpool FC’s sixth European Cup.

His impact in 2019/20 wasn’t quite as seismic – even if he made twice as many appearances – but braces in the 5-5 Anfield League Cup thriller against Arsenal in October, which the Reds won on penalties, and the 5-2 victory over Everton in December simply enhanced his reputation as a player who kept his head and thrived in big moments.

His only other goals that season came on the first and final days of the Premier League season, though.

2020/21, then, only brought a single goal in a 2-7 League Cup win at Lincoln City in September.

Those are both elements which have contributed to the sense that Origi’s value to the squad is waining.

Either way, what a contribution he has made to Liverpool Football Club.

Often in individual moments, he has come to the fore. He has been willing to take responsibility and, in doing so, he has helped take the club to some magical places.

Has he contributed as much as would have been hoped in recent times? No. It’s difficult to justify another answer.

But for much of 2020/21, the squad as a whole was not functioning close to what would be perceived as optimal capacity.

As Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Mané and Diogo Jota all did at times, Origi will have suffered as a result.

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Those four, alongside – potentially – the likes of Takumi Minamino, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Harvey Elliott and more could all be looking to contribute to the frontline this season. Origi, at present, still looks some way off the starting lineup.

That, though, could be said for much of his Reds career – and for many of the spells within which he mustered massive moments.

He is different. That physical presence and continued willingness to run at opponents means he still feels a potential dimension-changer off the bench.

That could be particularly true if Liverpool are operating notably closer to their optimum capacity for much of 2021/22 – and if they utilise different systems more often, as some have suggested could be a possibility.

If he can begin to show more of an ability to operate effectively within the system, while giving it that something different – and some more of those big moments – Origi could still be a valuable contributor.


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