Toward the end of last season, as Divock Origi approached his 21st birthday, the young Belgian was leading the line, banging in goals, and looking every bit like the striker of the future we all hoped he would become.
On April 7th he started the quarterfinal Europa League match with Dortmund and briefly gave the away side the lead. Three days later he scored a brace against Stoke City. Four days later, he scored another important goal against Dortmund, this time sparking one of the most memorable comebacks for Liverpool in recent memory. Origi celebrated his birthday on the 18th. On the 20th, he continued his scoring ways, this time putting one past Everton just before halftime. It would be his last goal of the season. Five minutes after the break, Everton’s Funes Mori effectively ended his season with a vicious stomp. To date, young Divock has yet to get back to those impressive heights from last season. In yesterday’s press conference, Jürgen Klopp spoke about Origi’s struggles.
“For Divock, it’s quite simple,” Kloppo explained. “Last October when I came here, he was far away from the first team. Around January/February time, he showed all of us what kind of a striker he is. After his injury he needed a bit of time, no rhythm. That’s how it is for a young striker sometimes.
“Now it’s October again and he’s in a completely different shape. I told him before the [Tottenham] game and you could see it in the game before he cramped up. He’s in a good way. He’s still a young boy but he needs to learn. That’s his situation but everything is good. We’re really happy that he’s here and that he’s back and in shape.”
We can certainly sympathize with Origi. For a brief, shinning moment, he was the man for Liverpool in some of the biggest late-season games. He was instrumental in taking Liverpool to their first European final in 8 years, and in trouncing their Merseyside rivals. Now, he’s fighting for playing time, so far only accumulating 104 minutes in 7 substitute appearances in the league.
“At a smaller club you play all the time. At a bigger club you need to use game time. That’s how it is. You sign an agreement. This is a big club. We want to be a big team. For this you need to take what you get and make the best of it. That’s how it works, not only for Divock but for all the players.
“I’d say I am close to Divock. We have good talks. Will he get impatient? Maybe. What can I do? It can happen and I have to deal with it. That’s why they have this thing between their nose and their chin – we can really talk about it. Life as a football player isn’t always pure sunshine.”
Inconsistency is part and parcel of being a young, developing player. There will be games or even runs of games where they will seem like the second coming of Fowler, and others where they’ll seem like the second coming of Dani Pacheco. Hopefully Origi’s season trajectory closely follows last season’s, and he’ll be pushing the likes of Firmino and Sturridge in April and May for valuable, important minutes.