With reports that Divock Origi could be recalled from his loan with Lille in January, Jack Lusby asks whether this move would benefit both club and striker.
With Liverpool struggling to find form so far this season, there would be no surprise if fans were licking their lips at the prospect of another attacking signing this season — in recent reports, summer acquisition Divock Origi could be recalled from his loan with Lille as early as January.
Admittedly not the best source, but Alex Harris, of the Daily Star, claims that “Origi could return to Merseyside if all three parties reach an agreement to cut the temporary spell in France short.”
This is backed up by Belgian football journalist Sven Claes, who continued to stress that all three parties would need to be in agreement.
It is widely reported that this loan move was included on Lille’s behalf in order to secure the deal for Brendan Rodgers this summer, and with this in mind it would be a surprise for the Ligue 1 side to sanction this movement.
However, if it is Origi’s paramount desire, and the Reds sweetened the deal with added funds, perhaps manager Rene Girard could be persuaded to part with the Belgian goalscorer.
Note that Lille didn’t qualify for the Champions League, knocked out by Porto in a qualifier, and are currently third in their Europa League group (although after only two games). With no European football to offer, they may be more willing to let Origi leave.
The prospect of Origi joining Liverpool earlier than anticipated begs the question: Would the Belgian striker benefit more from a January switch to Merseyside, or by continuing his developmental loan spell with Lille?
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 14, 2014
The main argument for Origi to remain at Lille this season is the striker’s current red-hot form at the Ligue 1 side, and for fear of upsetting the applecart.
After an eye-catching appearance for Belgium at the World Cup, Origi was already hot property, but a return of four goals in 28 appearances for the French league side last season had serious room for improvement.
This season already, the striker has found the net three times in seven Ligue 1 games—three of these being substitute appearances.
Furthermore, Origi has also made one assist in the league, and scored in both the Europa League and the Coupe de France.
According to Belgium captain Vincent Kompany, the striker is developing into a “monster,” and that “if he continues in this way, in a few years he will be among the five or ten best strikers in the world.”
This is clearly why Lille were so adamant that the striker would stay with them for a further season, and Origi is repaying their demands with his displays on the pitch.
It can be argued that, on the evidence of impressive displays such as Lille’s 1-0 victory over Caen in August, wherein which Origi bagged a late penalty winner, the striker’s development would be best served by remaining at his loan club for the time being.
Why upset what is already going so well?
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 29, 2014
The answer could be that it has become abundantly clear in recent weeks that Origi was the striker Rodgers wanted at Liverpool this season all along; however, in acquiring what the manager has described as a “world class” prospect, a loan back to Lille was necessary.
In referring to fellow summer signing Mario Balotelli as a “calculated risk,” the Northern Irishman saved some choice words for the Belgian.
“We believe he will be world class and we will get him back to Anfield in the summer.
“Now, he is a top player. He has everything but the deal was that he could not play for us now. That was unfortunate because he can run in behind, he can keep the ball, he can press and he can run.”
Tim Rich, reporting these quotes for The Independent, adds: “In short, Origi can do what Balotelli has not.”
The clamour for a forward of Origi’s quality stems from the loss of Daniel Sturridge to injury, with the Englishman missing seven games for the Reds this season, and the subsequent struggle by Balotelli to hit the scoresheet.
Rodgers’ assessment of the 19-year-old indicates that Origi is the type of forward that the manager truly relishes, much akin to Sturridge, and this is why an early switch to Liverpool this January is being mooted so vehemently.
Comparing Sturridge, from last season, and Origi this season, courtesy of WhoScored, the pair show to be similarly devastating.
In seven Ligue 1 appearances so far in 2014/15, Origi has scored three goals, at a rate of a goal every 147 minutes—close to every 1.5 games on average.
Divock Origi: Has now scored 3 goals in his last 5 appearances for Lille #WOBLOSC
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 2, 2014
Sturridge’s 21 goals from 29 Premier League appearances last season established a rate of a goal every 109 minutes; it is important to consider that the No. 15 was aided by the mesmeric Luis Suarez, and an aged pedigree.
With Rodgers praising Origi’s ability to run and keep the ball, it is encouraging to see that the Belgian’s average rate of 1.3 successful dribbles per game and passing accuracy of 78.8 per cent are similar to that of the Englishman last season.
Sturridge averaged 1.3 successful dribbles and a passing accuracy of 79.3 per cent in 2013/14.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 9, 2014
While discussing the necessity of his loan season at Lille, Origi’s revealing that Rodgers “keeps in touch” and “sends me messages” clearly shows the desire that the manager has to bring the striker into his squad.
In Sturridge’s absence, Origi would flourish at Liverpool—in tandem even more so.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 4, 2014
Nevertheless, remaining at Lille this season would arguably serve Origi better in terms of development.
Would Rodgers have sanctioned the £16 million signing of Balotelli if there was any chance of Origi joining his squad in January?
There is a lot yet to be seen from Balotelli in a Reds shirt, and the Italian will surely find form in the coming weeks, with the application already there, and as such should be afforded a larger measure of patience from both Rodgers and the Liverpol faithful.
Bringing Origi into the squad in January, following such high praise from Rodgers, would surely demand that the Belgian play a big part in the second half of the season on Merseyside, ostensibly casting aside Balotelli.
Rodgers would have to execute a delicate balancing act in order to keep Balotelli and Sturridge happy in terms of games played, and also maintain Origi’s development with the requisite minutes on the pitch.
At this juncture, whilst Origi may suit Rodgers’ system down to a tee, it is best that the striker remains with Lille in Ligue 1.
Next season, however, is another matter entirely.
Should Liverpool look to bring Divock Origi to Merseyside in January? Let us know in the comments below.