Divock Origi doesn’t exactly fit the image of a Liverpool striker in the Jurgen Klopp era. While the Reds’ first-choice frontline of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are renowned for their fluidity, their Belgian teammate can sometimes look cumbersome and clumsy in the way he plays the game.
And yet Origi has more than earned his place as an important member of Klopp’s squad, underlined by his winner in Tuesday’s Champions League victory over AC Milan. He might not be the archetypal Liverpool forward, but that’s why he has been able to make an impact on so many different occasions.
Origi has delivered a winner in a Merseyside derby, two goals in the famous Champions League semi-final comeback against Barcelona and the goal that put the finishing touches on Liverpool’s win over Tottenham Hotspur in the final. More recently, there was the stoppage time winner against Wolves on Saturday just days before the Belgian made his mark at the San Siro.
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The role Origi performs for Liverpool is similar to the one Ole Gunnar Solskjaer performed for Manchester United during the club’s glory years. Much like the legendary Norwegian, Origi’s game is focused purely on putting the ball in the back of the net, even if the method leaves much to be desired.
“It’s one special thing in his skillset,” Klopp recently said of Origi’s ability to make an instant impact.
It’s not the only thing – it’s not that he can only come on and play well. He had brilliant games for us from the start. In one of the biggest games in our history - against Barcelona [in 2019], for example - he started, played an incredible game and scored the goals in the right moments.
“He can shoot with his right and left; his technical level is incredible; he’s really, really, really quick; he is in the air - how we all know - a monster as well. He is a really interesting package. But, that doesn’t mean that you are a constant starter for Liverpool FC because of the quality we have. That’s how it is. That’s how life is.”
Liverpool would be a poorer team without Origi. While the 26-year-old isn’t good enough to be a regular first-team figure for the Anfield outfit, he gives Klopp a different option. Opposition defenders don’t like facing Origi because of the way he forces them to think about something different.
Even when Origi doesn’t score an important goal, he creates space for others around him. Opposition defenders are drawn to him and so even when the ball doesn’t fall for him, there’s a good chance that it’ll fall to Firmino or Mane or Salah or someone else in red who has more time and space due to Origi’s presence on the pitch.
It would be understandable if at some point in the near future Origi sought a move to a club where he would be guaranteed more game-time, but just as Liverpool mustn’t take the Belgian for granted, the player himself must recognise what he has at Anfield and the status he has on Merseyside. Not every player is cherished by a fanbase like he is by the Liverpool support.
Players like Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk do a better job of encapsulating the essence of Klopp’s Liverpool, but Origi offers another edge. Even the best teams need someone that forces them to ask different questions of themselves in order to ask different questions of their opponents. Origi does that and more.
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