Via AllinOne Sports
Divock Origi returned from his season long loan at Lille without much for expectations. His 2014-15 season at Lille was well below standards for the Belgian as he was voted in many of Ligue 1’s worst teams of the season. As a result, he flew largely under the radar throughout the first eleven matches of the season when Brendan Rodgers was at the helm. However, as soon as Jürgen Klopp took over, Origi was immediately given far more playing time (not all due to Klopp as the squad was also ravaged by injuries). This increased playing time definitely saw the highs and lows of Origi finding his footing in a new league as a young player, but as the season wore on the youngster began to show tremendous quality. He started in numerous key matches putting in excellent performances, most notably in the first quarterfinal leg against Borussia Dortmund where his goal earned the Reds a vital draw and away goal. As Origi continues to develop and hone his skills at the highest levels of European football, the potential is there for him to become one of the best strikers in England.
Over 33 appearances, Origi recorded ten goals and three assists. Although these may not be very flashy returns when compared to many strikers including his teammate Christian Benteke who has been deemed a massive flop, Origi showed a lot of talent especially over the second half of the season. Origi has a lot of pace that when coupled with intelligent movement, can really open up defenses. Origi’s ability to run the channels and latch on to dangerous balls from Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho is what makes the Belgian such a threat. He also offers a very different alternative to Daniel Sturridge and Benteke who are both far less mobile. Sturridge’s injuries seem to have sapped his pace to an extent and Benteke is far more of a direct threat in the air rather than a quick and fast striker. Origi gives Liverpool’s attack a much different dynamic that can be effective in a lot of matches where Sturridge and Benteke are not. Additionally, his skillset meshes very well with Sturridge, as those two showed an effective partnership that looks to be very intriguing for the future. If both players can stay healthy for the majority of the 2016-17 season, Liverpool fans may be able to watch the two strikers develop a dynamic partnership at this tip of the Reds’ attacking formation.
Origi’s pace is not only effective in attack, but also in closing down defenders and pressuring ball playing center backs into mistakes. Again, the finest example of Origi’s aptitude in this area is the match against Dortmund. The Belgain did a fantastic job of taking Julian Weigl out of the match—one of Dortmund’s most important players who is notorious for springing his side into dangerous attacks by pinging the ball all around the pitch. Neutralizing Weigl relieved a ton of pressure off of Liverpool’s defense, a big reason why the Reds were able to hold Dortmund to only one goal (scored off a set piece). Although Origi only averaged 0.2 tackles per match in all competitions, his defensive impact was much more than the stats would indicate. Origi is always willing to press and avidly close down defenders, creating problems for defenses in more than just the attacking sense. When playing alongside Sturridge who is not quite as inclined to chase the ball around the pitch, Origi’s willingness to participate in the press is imperative to the success of Klopp’s tactics.
Origi showed a lot of potential this season that many fans did not believe he had at the start of the season, but there are still numerous areas where he needs to improve. As is the case with many young attackers who often rely heavily on their pace and movement, Origi needs to improve his on-ball abilities. The young Belgian only completed 74.5% of the mere 10 passes he averaged per match. Furthermore, Origi only averaged 0.5 key passes per match while only creating 14 chances between the Premier League and the Europa League. Playing alongside a serial scorer such as Sturridge, Origi will be relied upon to play off the Englishman to create scoring opportunities. As it currently stands, this aspect of his game can be improved so as to get the most out of a potential partnership with Sturridge. When he is playing as a lone striker his holdup play will be heavily relied upon to hold possession, thus emphasizing the importance of perfecting his distribution skills. At only 21 years old, this side of his game will definitely improve with time on the training ground. Luckily for Origi, no European competitions will give the Belgian plenty of time to hone the finer sides of the game and allow him to become a more complete striker.
Klopp’s faith in Origi is much higher than almost anybody could have predicted at the onset of the 2015-16 season. The first quarterfinal against Dortmund was the most important match of the season for the Reds up to that point, yet the German chose Origi rather than a fit Sturridge. Klopp believes in Origi, that is clear, and the Belgian has done a fantastic job taking his chances and showing he can be a vital part of the squad despite his age. The trajectory is pointing directly upward for the Belgian, and if he can develop a partnership with Sturridge that looked to be dynamic in the short time the two played together this season, Origi may become a much endeared player to the Kop over the coming years.