The excitement of last season is fast becoming a distant memory for most Liverpool fans. A lack of intensity and – more importantly a distinct lack of goals – has resulted in a growing number of requests for summer signing Divock Origi to be recalled from his season-long loan to Lille during the January transfer window. But would this be the right move for the club – and the player – at this time?
Origi was bought during the summer after a very impressive showing at the World Cup in Brazil, firstly being brought in by Belgium boss Marc Wilmots to replace the injured Christian Benteke in the squad, and then to take over from the misfiring Romelu Lukaku. Confidence in the youngster was rewarded with some impressive displays and a late goal against Russia that helped the Belgians qualify for the knockout stage.
Just the latest on what seems to be a never ending conveyor belt of young Belgian talent, Origi is seen by many to be a future star – and his move to England seemingly confirmed that. But whether he is the answer to the prayers of Liverpool fans as they struggle to compete in Europe and at home is another case entirely.
When Brendan Rodgers swooped for the striker in the summer it might have looked to many as if Liverpool had splashed out on a player coming from nowhere and having an impressive tournament. But the club had been tracking the teenager since showing promise while representing Belgium at U15 level. And it was widely agreed that the 19-year-old would benefit from another season at Lille to gain experience before starting his Premier League career. But now Liverpool’s form has caused many to panic.
Liverpool were always going to miss Luis Suarez after his move to Barcelona. For all his off field problems, he was the main reason why the Reds came so close to the title last season. A partnership with Daniel Sturridge was breath-taking to watch and the Uruguayan left a very big hole to fill. Sturridge has definitely looked as if he could hold his own but has had bad luck with injuries. The signing of Mario Balotelli was always going to be risky but the Italian’s dire form has surprised even his fiercest critics. Other summer signings have either found the move to the English game harder than expected, as in the case of Lazar Markovic, or never intended to be the main focus of a Liverpool title pursuit – as with Rickie Lambert.
It is debateable that Origi can save the day however. Although obviously a very gifted player, he is only 19 and yet to score more than six goals in a season for a club. That figure looks likely to be surpassed this term but to mount such pressure on the young Belgian’s shoulders at this stage of his career could do more harm than good. Completing the season in France and possibly scoring more goals would be a massive confidence boost for the striker to bring into the new campaign in August. To expect him to save a Liverpool season that sees them currently languishing in mid table is surely too much of an ask.
Brendan Rodgers has been dealt another blow with the news that Sturridge will be out for at least another month with his latest injury but perseverance with Balotelli could yet bear fruit as he is a remarkable talent – when he wants to be. It is understandable for Liverpool to be tempted to bring in Origi earlier than anticipated to boost a flagging campaign but Rodgers needs to get more out of what he has in front of him – and then capitalise on a fit Sturridge – before taking what would be a very big gamble on a very young and relatively inexperienced talent.