Does Divock Origi deserve to start more games at Liverpool?
Such is the attention on Daniel Sturridge’s inability to get into the Liverpool team at the moment, it is easy to forget that the Reds also have one of Europe’s brightest young strikers sitting on their bench, every week.
At 21 years of age, Divock Origi is still a player who is developing. Still a slightly raw, unpredictable forward, he has been admired by Jurgen Klopp for some time, and when he broke into the side at the end of last season, it appeared as if he had already cemented himself as his sides first choice centre forward.
Sadly for the Belgian, a nasty tackle from Ramiro Funes Mori in a 4-0 demolition of Everton ended his 2015/16 season, and when he came back to the team after the summer, the youngster was third choice again.
Currently, there is no reason for the Reds to change the formation or personnel that has seen them dominate matches to sit tied for first place at the top of the Premier League table. Roberto Firmino is doing an excellent job in the false nine role, flitting between the lines and giving defenders very little to actually mark. Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane are ably supporting him on the wings. Currently, there is no room for Sturridge or Origi to be starting on a regular basis.
But this does not mean that there is still not an argument to say that Origi does not deserve more game time in the Liverpool 11. So much has been made of trying to shoehorn the wonderfully talented Sturridge into the team that calls for Origi to be given a chance have taken the backs seat. However, it is certainly worth considering.
The Belgian has the full repertoire of skills available to him that could turn him into a complete centre forward. He is strong, surprisingly quick, can hold the ball up and run in behind, as well as being a pretty mean finisher. It is no coincidence that Liverpool’s improving performances in 2016 started when Origi came into the side and hit form.
He is slightly limited when it comes to the Liverpool set up though. Sturridge, for example, can slot in anywhere in Liverpool’s front three (albeit uncomfortably), because he has more of an ability to play out wide. Origi lacks the initial burst of pace to beat a full back regularly, limiting the damage he can do out wide. He is a centre forward, and with the amount of interchanging in the Reds’ front line, Origi doesn’t fit as well as others do.
Still, Origi is excellent when it comes to work rate. Sturridge is often criticised for his lack of enthusiasm to retrieve possession, but the 21-year-old works tirelessly off the ball to help his team. In terms of pressing, he certainly wouldn’t be a hindrance.
There will be games, though, when a battering ram approach may be needed, and when this is necessary, Origi is the perfect man. Take the one blot on Liverpool’s early season copybook; Burnley. The Reds weer crying out for someone to hit in the box when the short passing game was not working. Origi can occupy a number of players with his physical presence, leaving plenty of space for others to exploit. He is a very useful asset to have.
Although he does not fit into the team as well as Firmino, and won’t be solidifying his place as an irreplaceable number nine any time soon, Origi’s talents are so useful to Liverpool, and there will be times where his different but flexible style will win Liverpool games. As a third choice striking option for now, few clubs will be able to boast better.
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