Why Liverpool should sign Origi (but not as a striker)

The Rio Report

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Belgium booked themselves a place in the World Cup quarter finals with a thrilling but hard fought 2-1 victory over the United States after extra time. The win sets up a mouth-watering clash with a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina side who themselves had earlier scraped through against Switzerland in extra time thanks to an Angel Di Maria strike.

A composed Kevin De Bruyne finish was followed by a Romelu Lukaku strike and although the Americans piled on the pressure in the second period of extra time, clawing one back through a Julian Green volley, the Belgians hung on. But it was the man who Lukaku replaced at the start of extra time that caught the eye once again for Belgium. Liverpool target Divock Origi was handed a start as the lone striker after impressing in the group stage of the competition and was the Red Devils’ biggest threat to a strong American backline throughout.

Origi came on as a substitute in the group phase in all three of the Belgians matches, scoring the winner against Fabio Capello’s Russia and impressing, in particular, against South Korea in the final game of the group. These performances helped put his name on several top European clubs’ radar, thus causing Liverpool to show interest in buying him from his club side, Lille.

At Lille last season, Origi made 29 appearances but was used mainly as a wide forward rather than a striker as the French club looked to utilise his pace. But in this tournament, he has been used in a more central position by Marc Wilmots. That fantastic versatility will serve Liverpool well, should they finalise the deal. Against the USA, Origi was a menace and was able to show off his speed and willingness to dribble at defences, therefore exploiting the space between the US midfield and defence.

In total, he attempted eight take-ons, which perhaps shows that his natural position is as a winger. Origi has the potential to become a top class player if he improves on his decision making. There is no harm in attempting dribbles and trying to make something happen but there were times when a pass was the better option for the forward. He is still a bit rough round the edges.

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Divock Origi Take-Ons vs USA

Origi’s Heat Map also shows that a central role is not his natural position. Despite his tendency to look for possession in wide areas, he managed to lead the line extremely well on the day. The Belgian forward worked the channels nicely, made intelligent runs and was always making the American defenders, who were tremendous themselves, think about where he was.

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He combined this intelligence off the ball with some smartness on it. Origi managed to create three chances for his teammates in the 90 minutes he was on the pitch. While he also completed 93% of his passes overall, showing his ability at holding the ball up and retaining possession.

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Divock Origi created three chances vs USA

However, Origi didn’t manage to find the net despite having five attempts on goal. Although he hit the bar with the header in the second half, his shots on goal were generally weak efforts. Three were saved by the immense Tim Howard whilst the other was blocked straight in front of him.

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Here is another sign that Origi is perhaps not a natural finisher, this is another area of his game which is quite raw currently. The Belgian forward scored just five times last season; admittedly he was playing out wide, but his a lack of composure in front of goal showed in the game against the USA. However, with experience and good coaching, this area of his game can easily be improved upon.

Despite Lukaku coming off the bench to swing the game in Belgium’s favour, Origi was mightily impressive over the 90 minutes and it seems Liverpool are getting a fantastic, but raw, talent. He has the potential to make it at the top level in the Premier League should Brendan Rodgers and his staff nurture him correctly. Origi has the physique and the ability, all he needs now is more experience of top level football and there aren’t much better places to get it right now than in this youthful and exciting Liverpool team.

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