He’s like a new signing. With Divock Origi extending his contract at Liverpool Jürgen Klopp has secured an attacking threat. It’s not the story we thought we’d be telling about Origi but it is the new reality. The big Belgian became a certified legend last season with several critical goals scored on Liverpool’s journey towards football nirvana.
Klopp has always had high praise for Origi but whatever great things the manager was seeing in training weren’t always evident in Divock’s match performances. And a season in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg did next to nothing to change that. But Origi’s still here.
Klopp describes Origi’s signing as proof of what hard work and the struggle of perseverance can do for a player.
“I really think it’s a win-win situation. It’s a story really only football can write,” said Klopp.
“I never forgot the situation in the Everton game [in 2016], to be honest, when there was that harsh tackle and a red card for Funes Mori. Divock was in the best shape of his life and everybody was so positive about his future, and then things like this happen in football.
“We always know something like this can happen but when you see it and see the influence it has on a career, it’s just a sad story because he struggled really long with the ankle and stuff like that [and when] he came back the team was flying pretty much.
“It was not easy to come in and he couldn’t gain confidence and stuff like that. Going on loan to Wolfsburg, it didn’t really work out there, coming back, thinking about leaving and then the season starts and yeah, it’s not a miracle, but it’s the nice part of the story then.”
Origi’s progression in the team is further confirmation of Klopp’s natural man-management. The manager is inherently adept at uniting players into a formidable force but it takes time and he preaches patience along the way. All the ingredients seems to be available at Melwood to foster positive growth and Origi was given time in this environment to excel and he did. Now he’s making more millions and he’s a licensed Liverpool hero.
“He grew and grew and grew, in training sessions you could see it: ‘Wow!’ It was then not sure about the centre so he played a couple of games on the left wing. He did well there, it’s obviously not his natural position but he can play it in a specific way, in a very offensive way.
“Then in training again, you saw ‘OK, now he is ready again for No.9’ and he did that and scored the goals. That helped obviously, he scored unbelievably important goals and here we are.
“We wanted to sign him again, to extend the contract, and the nice thing is he wanted to as well. He realised it was a tough time [but] we never gave him up in that time, [we never said] ‘OK, that will never work again’, but sometimes in football you don’t have enough time.
“Thankfully we had enough time that we could kind of wait until he is ready again. Now he is this wonderful player again so it’s great to have him and I’m really, really happy about the signing.”