Divock Origi is on as meteoric a rise as you will ever see these days. Two months ago, he was virtually anonymous, only known to those who closely followed France's Ligue 1, and even then not to all of those as he wasn't a regular starter at Lille OSC (better known to Liverpool fans as "the club Joe Cole spent a year at on loan"). Then the 19-year-old Origi was tapped to be part of Belgium's World Cup squad, scored in a friendly, then dazzled in the World Cup every time he played, scoring one incredible goal and serving as a major part of several late Belgium comebacks and generally impressing with his actions on the pitch.
Now Liverpool reportedly have all but signed Origi, leaving many fans scrambling to figure out just who this seeming diamond in the rough is. Luckily for you, we have that information for you right here, in the form of one of our now-traditional Transfer Scouting reports.
DOB: 4/18/95 (19) | Height: 6'1" (1.85 meters)
2014 Season: 35 appearances (15 starts)
6 goals, 1 assist
Strengths: Origi is very, very athletic, and knows how to use it. He has explosive acceleration that he uses in concert with his raw power to shuck defenders trying to face him down one on one, leaving more than a few looking foolish in his wake.
Once he's in the clear, Origi can shoot from a variety of ranges with his right foot, but he's also capable of finding a pretty high-quality linking pass to change the direction of the attack and help unlock a defense, something surprising in an ostensibly power-focused striker of his age. Origi's head-up game is still very much in development, but when he sticks his mind to it, he's all the more dangerous because of it.
Did I mention that he's fast? Because Origi is fast. He's lethal over short distances, but for such a big man he's surprisingly quick over longer distances as well. His pace, explosiveness, and power on the ball is a dangerous combination in and around the box, and he provides the ability to create delightful matchup problems because of it.
Origi is also delightfully instinctive in the air, capable of connecting with sharper, longer headers than most of his peers. His vertical isn't quite what you might expect from as large and powerful a striker as Origi is, but he uses his body well to make up for that lacking.
Weaknesses: Thanks to Origi's youth and relative inexperience, there's definitely some issues to be ironed out before he can be truly deemed ready to be a major contributor to an EPL side.
While Origi's physical qualities are exceptional, his tactical ones are... somewhat lacking as of yet. His positioning is suspect at times, as he's too often away from a good place to receive the ball during buildup or a counter-attack. Directly related to that is another issue: Origi is too passive when his side is out of possession. Neither Lille nor Belgium are aggressive about defensive pressing, but he needs to do a lot better at searching out spaces in the defense to put himself in and exploit once his side wins the ball back.
Like many young strikers, Origi can get a touch greedy in the box. This leads to shots from poor angles when there's a teammate with space in a much better position. He does pick his head up and look for a better option more than most peers of his age, but he could still stand to do it a lot more.
He's also just very... raw, and unrefined. That leads to moments that make you scratch your head in bewilderment, trying to figure out what the heck Origi was just trying to do, or why he went one way with a pass or run when the other direction was clear for miles and miles around.
Also, Origi showed a tendency to drift out of matches for a spell during the World Cup. This could likely be chalked up mostly to simple fatigue given the larger-than-expected role he played in difficult conditions, but it's still something you don't want to see from the leader of your line. Belgium is a talented enough side that they were able to work around that, but they could have had a much easier time of things in his starts had he stayed focused throughout the matches.
Summation: A lot of good, a fair bit of bad, and miles and miles and miles of talent projection. It does seem like there's more bad than good based on what's listed above, but take heart: his problems can almost certainly be ironed out, reduced, or even eliminated by playing more, then playing some more, and... yeah, let's play him some more. They're issues born largely out of a lack of experience, something he can only get one way: by playing, and playing a lot.
That's the beauty of the move Liverpool have proposed: by spending another year at Lille on loan, he can stay with a side he's already familiar with, that already knows him, and was starting to use him more and more towards the end of last season. The plan seems to be to give him a year of regular minutes in that environment, then bring him back to Anfield and see what the next step needs to be. Maybe he'll be ready for the first team by then, maybe he'll need another loan, but either way, at Origi's age they've got time to be patient and develop him properly.
All this is a really long way of saying one thing: Liverpool have found themselves a special talent. If they can develop him right, we could be looking at a world-class player in a few years. You're allowed to get excited about this one.