Despite his Champions League heroics last season, Divock Origi might not have a long-term future at Anfield and could be set for a summer exit.
The seventh of May 2019. A date forever engraved in the minds of Liverpool fans across the world. The second-leg fixture of the Champions League semi-finals between Liverpool and Barcelona requires little introduction.
Yet, on two occasions, backup striker and a player more divisive than any during his time at Liverpool, Divock Origi, rose to the occasion, helping himself in front of the Barcelona goal and putting his side miraculously through to their second European final in as many years.
Fast forward just a month. Origi finds himself on the bench in the final to which he dragged his team, despite notching three goals in his previous three games. A less than stellar outing from the preferred Roberto Firmino sees him replaced on the 59th minute-mark as Origi takes the stage at the Wanda Metropolitano in the biggest game of his career to date.
It takes less than 25 minutes for the Belgian to make an impact and tie up Liverpool’s sixth European triumph. He latches onto a Joel Matip pass in the Tottenham area and arrows an effort on his weaker foot across Hugo Lloris and into the bottom-left corner of the goal.
The contrast is palpable as Origi performs a characteristically muted celebration before a backdrop of fervently joyous Liverpool fans – springing out of their seats and into each others’ arms. He’d done it.
Happy 25th birthday to Divock Origi 🎉— Oddschanger (@Oddschanger) April 18, 2020
The man that scored the goal to clinch last season's Champions League Final and celebrated like he had just scored the 8th in a 10-0 win ⚽️
Credit – @btsportfootball pic.twitter.com/htixMMhDdG
The striker’s cult status looked set to be cemented in Liverpool folklore.
A pitch invasion of young fans desperate to get a picture with their new idol came early in the following season after the final whistle of a pre-season game with Tranmere Rovers – a further display of the reds’ adoration.
The adulation of the striker was apparent during the game also, with each of his touches met by a crimson roar. Origi had come a long way from his roots, planted firmly in the reserves of French side Lille and now he was on top of the world.
Shockingly, however, despite the dizzying heights of his prior heroics, his campaign this year has come under fire.
Divock Origi has never been the most prolific of attackers, averaging just over 8.25 goals a season. However, it’s not only his goal-scoring that has been the subject of recent criticism.
Get Origi off. Donkey.— Finn (@Finnnnnn__) October 20, 2019
Divock Origi.— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) July 30, 2019
Struggling to think of a player who's had a greater impact at Liverpool in terms of big moments, but who I still think is pretty rubbish.
Despite some of his better performances coming from playing through the middle, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has repeatedly utilised Origi on the left of a front three; a position in which he has looked clumsy and out of place.
Easily dispossessed and oft caught with the ball under his feet, the target man has been hard pressed to make an impression out wide.
Regardless, with a strike-force as talented as Liverpool’s, it would require a feat of some magnitude to regularly displace one of Firmino, Mane or Salah.
These poor performances have seen Origi’ stock sink rapidly and amongst Liverpool’s links to the likes of Red Bull Leipzig’s Timo Werner and Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, it’s difficult to see where Origi will fit in as he’s pushed further to the back of the queue.
It will be interesting to see where Origi finds himself over the coming months.
Will he accept his place as even more of a squad player than he has to this point, or will the now 25 year-old look to take his trade overseas?
Perhaps a move to Italy where a tall, strong striker often thrives (just take a look at his fellow countryman Romelu Lukaku), or back to Germany, where he spent a disappointing year on loan with Wolfsburg, might give him a chance for redemption.
Although, with 79 of his 134 appearances for Liverpool coming from the bench, has he ever really been given a true opportunity to prove his worth?
Flashes of his Belgian brilliance are not rarities, you need only cast your mind back to Liverpool’s recent 5-2 thrashing of Everton to observe how good he can be on his day.
Origi’s 2nd goal vs Everton went under the radar imo. Everything’s about this goal was perfection. 👌🏻 pic.twitter.com/5XEE98VOHx— Samue (@SamueILFC) April 2, 2020
But with incoming signings likely, a move away to showcase such talent on a more regular basis seems the best solution for all parties involved.
After all, Origi is certainly the man for the big occasion, as his record shows:
Divock Origi over the past year:— SPORTbible (@sportbible) October 31, 2019
96th min winner vs. Everton ✅
86th min winner vs. Newcastle ✅
Brace vs. Barcelona, including tie winning goal ✅
Final clinching goal vs. Spurs ✅
Brace vs. Arsenal ✅
Clutch striker. Big game player! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/0R9hi39TnR