Right around November or December, it would have been hard to picture Simon Mignolet as a regular in Liverpool's squad, let alone a leader who could be relied upon to help build for the future. A remarkable change in form has seen him among the club's best in the new year, and while not nailed-on as the goalkeeper of the future, he's certainly secured himself a spot through the summer and into next season.
That means the goalkeeper will be around to welcome fellow Belgian international Divock Origi, who's seeing out the final months of his loan at Lille. Mignolet is confident that his international teammate will enjoy life at Liverpool, and he's happy to help the 19-year-old settle in:
"I'll always be there if he needs me. But he's more than mature enough, he has played professional football since he was very young and he is an international footballer, so that will help. I'm sure he's got more than enough experience. But if he needs a helping hand, I'll always be ready to help him out.
"He's only a young player but I'm sure, from what I've seen in training with him, that he's a very good player and will do really well for us. He's very quick, he's got skill, he can hold the ball up and score a goal as well - what else do you want from a striker? He's got a good attitude to work hard in training, which is always important; he's willing to learn and accepts advice. I can only speak in good terms about him."
That contrasts reports from earlier in the season, when it looked as though Liverpool might spend a few extra million pounds to bring him to Anfield in January in what was, essentially, a rescue mission. Lille's season had tanked and there were concerns about the young striker's development in such an environment, and it wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world to have him on Merseyside sooner rather than later.
Things have settled for club and player, and he's started to find form again. Having come through a difficult spell by season's end, with a few more goals to boot, would be an integral part of the promising striker's development, and an excellent prologue to what will hopefully be a successful Liverpool career.