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Potential can be a dirty word - by Jason Harris

It is a fair statement to say that the Liverpool career to date of Divock Origi has had its share of highs and lows.

 

The club paid £10 Million for the Belgian youngster in the summer of 2014 from Lille, but opted to keep him in France to give him an extra season of first team football.

 

When he eventually arrived on Merseyside a year later not an awful lot was expected from the Belgian, especially as he was named in French newspaper L'Equipe's worst team for the 2014/15 season.

 

The early stages of last season saw Origi struggle to adapt to the tempo English Football. It was the arrival of Jurgen Klopp where we saw his strengths brought to light. A hat-trick in the fourth round League Cup rout against Southampton set the youngster on his way.

 

Once 2016 came around, the confidence of Origi was clear to see as he was more accustomed to the league. While his Premier League performances were encouraging it was on the European nights where his star began to shine.

 

Origi was surprisingly chosen ahead of Daniel Sturridge for the ties against Borussia Dortmund, but he grabbed the opportunity with both hands and led the line superbly in both fixtures. Many observers saw it as a coming of age moment as Origi was showing clear signs of thriving on the big stage and becoming the kind of striker that the fans would embrace.

 

Having been tormented by a number of strongly built strikers over the years, the club now had one of their own with Origi displaying plenty of pace and power as well as a very high work ethic which is a non-negotiable for a member of a Jurgen Klopp’s side.

 

After recovering from a late season ankle injury to play a minor role for his country in Euro 2016, it was thought that Origi would continue his growing momentum as a player and demand a starting role for the new league season.

 

However opportunities were rare with new signing Sadio Mane playing a key role in the team's superb start to the season, and Klopp understandably was unwilling to change the makeup of the side.

 

When he did play, the 21 year-old looked sluggish and all the spark he had displayed in the previously season seemed to have disappeared. However things were soon going to take a turn for the better for the young Belgian.

 

The injury that Philippe Coutinho suffered against Sunderland at the end of November was undoubtedly a major blow for the team, however it was the opportunity that Origi had been waiting for.

 

Klopp placed his trust in the striker to play a role in the starting lineup and he produced in kind, scoring five goals in as many games including four in the league, which included a fantastic all-round performance against Middlesbrough.

 

This was the much-awaited return to form of the player that was a key to the team's success in Europe last season. With Origi in this kind of form, it made the Reds a more balanced team. Disappointingly for all concerned, the hot streak dried up not too long after.

 

This opinion piece on Daniel Sturridge touched on the fact that Origi had an opportunity to have a real impact when called upon in the second half of the season. Two months on from that article we are still waiting for him to snap out of his most recent malaise.

 

Recently, when starting in the cup games or coming on as a late substitute (with the exception of his cameo against Arsenal), he has once again looked extremely sluggish and even disinterested at times.

 

When he came on for the last twenty minutes against Man City, he was struggling to do basics such as keep hold of the ball and contesting aerial duels which is exactly the job you want your front man to do when playing away from home against a quality opponent.

 

It is not that he can't do that role as he proved very capable of doing so in the Europa League, more worryingly is that it appears that he has lost the spark and the general want to do it.

 

We know that the club doesn't have the deepest of squads, so it is down to the senior players to set the standard for the likes of the academy youngsters to follow. For a player like Origi to have such an inconsistent form line over a period of time is a great concern and it begs the question whether he actually has a future at the club.

 

The club already has a player in Sturridge who has basically kissed any chance of a prolonged Liverpool career goodbye with his frequent injury battles and general disinterest for the Liverpool cause. In many ways it would be a crying shame for Origi to head down this same path.

 

Potential is a word commonly mentioned when describing young players, but in truth it gives them an excuse to be inconsistent and lazy. Origi has undoubted potential but needs to think long and hard whether he wants to put in the hard yards for the club. As we approach one year since his standout moment in a Reds shirt to date, it is time for the striker to reach that level again and remain there.

 

Mediocrity and inconsistency has been accepted for far too long in the case of certain players, and a ruthless streak must become evident if we want to achieve great things as a Football Club.

 

If there is no improvement in the overall output of Origi in the last couple of months of the season, then the club should look to sell him. There will be a number of players on the market that would be able replace him and produce quality football on a weekly basis.
 

Jason Harris
@JayHarry80


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