2015/16 was the year that promised so much for Divock Origi. Quick off the ground, he was ideally suited to Klopp’s fast flowing attacking style while his eye for eye saw him chip in with a variety of goals.
Such good form was rewarded with a start in the Europa League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund. Tracking back to help deal with the frightening pace of Dortmund’s counter-attacks, Origi was pivotal at both ends of the pitch, netting in both legs.
Naturally then, this season was supposed to be the next step is the young strikers promising career. Origi would go on to achieve bigger and better things for Liverpool and become one of the most exciting young strikers in the league.
That didn’t quite prove to be the case, however, with the Belgian failing to hit the heights he had during the previous campaign.
The 2016/17 season was a tough one for Divock Origi. A campaign riddled with inconsistencies, the Belgian produced some good moments – such as that stunning finish from an unlikely angle against Bournemouth, along with a number of productive appearances from the bench.
Unfortunately for him, however, that was met with months of frustratingly bad form. While every player undergoes a lull in the season, Origi averaged just 0.9 take-ons for the season and a shot accuracy of 48%. Both statistics made for poor reading when compared to his campaign in 2015/16 where he achieved a shot accuracy of 71% and 1.87 take-ons respectively.
Occupying a peripheral role in the side, with Roberto Firmino the go to man up top while Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho were deployed the wider positions, Origi’s struggles to build up any kind of momentum were somewhat inevitable.
The young striker lost possession too easily, often proving to be a hindrance to Liverpool’s usual free-flowing attack.
While widely regarded as a long-term project at the club, such an erratic season with little overall development will have been a worry.
So then, what next?
At 22, Origi certainly has time on his side, but with Roberto Firmino the new No.9 and Daniel Sturridge set to remain for another season on Merseyside, Origi’s game time next season could well be restricted again.
Mohamed Salah’s arrival will have increased competition for places out wide which will only emphasise the need for Origi to take his game up a gear in order to force himself into Klopp’s plans.
Earlier this year he spoke of his desire to stay and fight for a place in the first-team, saying:
“I want to make it hard for the manager to leave me out. I want to play, I want to earn my place.”
However admirable that may be, the harsh reality is the Belgian has failed to take the chances that have fallen his way. 11 goals for the 2016/17 season is a decent return given the nature of his appearances but the nature of the modern game, particularly in a team led by Jurgen Klopp, demands so much more of strikers.
One’s ability to hold the ball up and bring their teammates into the game is of equal importance, along with a high energy press that provides the first line of defence.
That’s another aspect that Origi needs to knuckle down on if he is to make headway at Liverpool.
For him to rid of his inconsistencies and get back onto the right path in terms of his progression, he needs regular first-team football – be that at Anfield or somewhere on loan.
Newcastle are one of several teams to have been linked with a summer move and in many ways it would make perfect sense.
Origi would get the regular game time he needs in order to fulfil his potential while remaining in England’s top tier to gain valuable experience and continue to get to grips with the rigour of the league itself.READ MORE: Jürgen Klopp considering change of formation for Liverpool next season
Should a move fail to arise in the coming months, Origi would fulfil a squad role next season. Liverpool are set to fight in four different competitions, meaning rotation will become more of an issue for Klopp. That could see more chances arise for the 22-year old as he looks to put a disappointing campaign behind him.
Thus, it is very much crunch time for Origi. Wherever he is plying his trade come August, he must shake off his inconsistencies to reach the next stage.
He has all the right tools to become a quality striker one day, but as it stands it will be hard for him to be anything more than a peripheral player for Liverpool.