Johnny Nic waves off Divock Origi as the unfathomable Belgian bagsman prepares to say goodbye to Liverpool after eight years at Anfield…
Who’s this then?
Divock Okoth Origi is still only 27 years old. Born in Ostend, Belgium, he’s a 6ft 1in Liverpool striker, at least for a few more days, until his contract runs down.
He got his start at Lille, who he signed for aged 15, rejecting an offer from Manchester United to do so. That turned out to be a sensible move, all things considered. He only scored 16 in 89 games for the club, but showed enough promise for Liverpool to turn up with £10million in its sky rocket, say “come ‘ead, la” and took him back to Anfield, only to loan him back to Lille for a season.
He made his debut for Liverpool in September 2015, a month before Brendan Rodgers’ sacking and Jurgen Klopp’s arrival. In strictly statistical terms his first two seasons at the Reds were his most successful in that he scored 21 times across 76 appearances, after which, he was loaned to Wolfsburg for a year. He did alright there and scored seven in 36 games. Since he returned from Germany he has never got into double figures for goals. His stats are rarely better than OK, but it doesn’t matter because he has developed a happy knack of being the go-to man to rescue a game off the bench.
Strangely, though, when he started games, he was usually somewhat ineffective. He became that rarest of things; the super sub. In 107 Premier League appearances, 73 have come as a substitute. Across his whole career he’s come on 160 times in 302 games. In fact, out of those 302 games he has only played the full game 62 times, in the Premier League, just eight times. That’s a remarkable statistic.
But as a super sub, he was a very useful player for the club, so much so that they signed him on again in 2019 for another three-year stretch, which is now coming to an end.
His contract ends in the summer. He hasn’t been offered a new one and as he’s still only 27 – though he seems to have been around for ages – he seems set for new pastures in Milan in pursuit of more regular football.
In order to achieve that, he’s going to have to start scoring regularly when he starts games or he will forever be an impact sub.
It is hard to believe that he’s probably got 10 years of his career left to play. Surely he can’t be a useful replacement for a whole decade can he? But then, every club needs someone who can reliably come on late in the game and score goals. You could argue that it is the most glamorous role in football as you get all the glory but don’t have to put in a shed load of work.
Why the love?
The affection for Divock on Merseyside isn’t just because his first name sounds like a Scouse colloquialism. Everyone loves a player who becomes a career substitute and while no player would wish to be so, it is nevertheless an important role to play and in Divock’s case a highly significant one.
Of course when you score in the Champions League final, in a historic semi-final, and against your local rivals, you will always go down in the club history and rightly so. Add in many other crucial strikes to rescue games when chasing down a title and you have a stone cold legend.
And yet it is hard to say exactly what his strengths are. He’s scored close range headers, scruffy tap-ins and some longer range strikes but he’s not especially fast and not especially tricky either. He’s not a target man as such and not a specialist predator either. He is elusive, like the wind, escaping definition, his success based largely on just being there.
However, some of his crucial goals have been scored by quick thinking and an ability to be switched on, perhaps when others are tiring and losing focus. Look at the last gasp winner against Wolves, back to goal, swivel and strike from five yards out.
Both goals in the famous Barcelona game were poacher’s goals, running onto a loose ball for the first, a first-time dink when everyone else had switched off for the second.
The last-minute goal against Everton, was also a bit of fortune achieved by just being there to mop up mistakes.
There is often a touch of Bambi-on-ice about him as though he isn’t quite sure of his footing and yet flashes of high skill too, such as that touch and turn to score against Arsenal and the back-to-goal turn and scoop for a second against the Gunners which was anything but graceful and rather resembled a tree falling in a wood but which was very effective.
Yeah, there’s a definite anyway-will-do aspect to his goalscoring and there’s no doubt he has talent in his shooting boots, but has never quite been top rank, despite 32 international caps for Belgium, 13 of which happened in 2014.
Will this change in the future? It will be fascinating to watch. He should be playing at his peak in the next few years, his aim will be to make sure Liverpool regret letting him go.
Three great moments
THAT goal against Barcelona…
THAT goal against Spurs in the Champions League…
THAT goal against Everton…
After being on Liverpool’s books since he was 19, he is finally on the move having agreed a deal with Milan, with a medical to pass and contract to sign once he’s done on Merseyside. Will Serie A be a happy hunting ground for him? He’ll likely be joining the champions, as they’re two points ahead of Inter going into the last game. They do need extra goals having scored 15 less than their rivals. He may be playing with Zlatan and Olivier Giroud, but will he get a leading role in attack or will he be once again benched? Basically, he’s just got to score goals and do it immediately. If he doesn’t, then he will no doubt revive his Liverpool role.
He will look back on his time at Liverpool with a lot of pleasure and maybe some frustration that he didn’t play more minutes. After being bought by Rodgers, he’s gone on to pick up a lot of silverware and has the full set of Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup medals. The only thing he hasn’t won is the Europa League, he’s got a runners-up medal though, after the 3-1 loss to Sevilla in 2015-16.
Given his pivotal role in Liverpool’s success, albeit from the bench, he will always be revered on Merseyside and will depart with everyone’s best wishes. There goes Divock Origi, what he did no-one can quite say but he did it bloody well as long as he didn’t have much time left in the match to do it in.