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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Reece Chambers

Divock Origi's curious legacy poses Jurgen Klopp's ultimate Liverpool question

“Saturday night and I like the way you move, Divock Origi!” sings Jamie Webster in front of 50,000+ Liverpool supporters in Madrid.

The rise of both Webster and Boss Night means that there is a song to match most of Jurgen Klopp’s players but the curious case of the Belgian was summed up quite well by the thousands of Liverpool supporters bouncing around to the sound of his name ahead of his crowning glory in the Wanda Metropolitano last June.

25 days previous, Origi had etched his name in Anfield folklore with two goals in the most unlikely of Champions League comebacks versus Barcelona. The 2018/19 season saw him score many important goals from Barcelona to Everton and Newcastle, yet there has never been a serious conversation about him challenging Klopp’s preferred front three.

Origi presents an interesting paradox to this Liverpool squad. He’s scored big goals. Turned up at big moments. Moments that have created a platform for thousands of Reds around the world to enjoy the success of this great side.

But, where does the 25-year-old fit in?

It would be fair to say that he has never really laid a claim to be starting in Klopp’s strongest XI but whenever Origi’s name is mentioned, there’s a case to say that Liverpool would not have won the Champions League without him.

With that type of history comes rich sentiment. Whether it be memories of signing his name in Madrid or back on Merseyside, he will also hold a place close to the hearts of many Liverpool fans.

However, the ruthless nature of football at the very top of the professional game means that there is little room for goodwill based on what has happened in the past. The relentless way in which Liverpool have gone about things this season in the league means that Origi has been called on very little. Klopp hasn’t needed a miracle and that is perhaps a miracle in itself.

For Origi, that leaves him in a difficult position and one that poses question marks over his long-term future. He started through the middle on Sunday in place of Roberto Firmino but a lack of conviction and general awareness of what it requires to play that role led to widespread criticism.

Against Aston Villa, one of the worst defences in the Premier League, the forward was presented with an opportunity to impress and show that he has more to his game than the odd goal that pops up out of nowhere.

Firmino’s introduction midway through the second half did much to change the tempo of the attack - leading to a 2-0 victory - but it yet again highlighted an issue that Klopp needs to address with regards to Origi.

It seems the Belgian does not have the skillset to play through the middle as a different type of option to Firmino and neither does he have the ability to replicate a role similar to the Brazilian number nine.

Perhaps that in itself is where the problem comes from. Playing second fiddle to Firmino is perhaps the most difficult of tasks from a tactical point of view. He’s central to the system, creates chances for others and contributes in front of goal where possible too.

In contrast, Origi has been Klopp’s go-to option off the bench to make something happen. He’s a player that thrives on unpredictability which sometimes comes as a benefit but it highly differs to the carefully orchestrated moves of Firmino.

Any player is going to struggle as Firmino’s deputy but it would be fair to say that Origi isn’t the man for that long-term. Maybe Takumi Minamino is the answer but that in itself raises questions as to why the Belgian started ahead of him against Villa.

The second phase of any trophy-winning squad is a different and perhaps more awkward challenge than originally building it. For Klopp, looking towards the future of how he replaces Firmino will be the ultimate question that needs answering.

While Origi probably isn’t that answer, he deserves the recognition for the season-defining moments he has created for this Liverpool team.

It remains to be seen whether or not Klopp has a masterplan for the Belgian. But regardless of what happens in the rest of his career, Origi will always be a fan favourite on the Kop.

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