Divock Origi’s performance for Belgium against Wales on Sunday night proved why he should remain at Lille this season, writes Jack Lusby.
Despite some sparkling moments, Divock Origi’s performance for Belgium in Sunday night’s goalless draw at home to Wales outlined why the striker shouldn’t be rushed to Liverpool in January.
Reports have been circulating that the 19-year-old could join the Reds half a season early, with manager Brendan Rodgers reportedly keen to add a striker he believes to be “world class” to his attacking ranks.
Origi took to Twitter recently to refute these claims:
Still, the desperate grasps at an immediate Anfield future for the striker continue.
Starting up front for the Red Devils on Sunday night, however, Origi showed why he isn’t quite ready for a step up to the Liverpool first team, and why he should remain at Lille for the rest of the season.
Origi vs. Wales
Selected ahead of highly-regarded Belgian strikers Christian Benteke and Romelu Lukaku for Sunday’s qualifier against Wales, this showed how high Origi’s stock is with manager Marc Wilmots.
Origi don ok showed decent movement for a 19 yr old.For the manager to put him in before lukaku and benteke shows how well he's thought of.
— John Aldridge (@Realaldo474) November 16, 2014
Deployed at the spearhead of a front three, flanked by Eden Hazard and Nacer Chadli, the 19-year-old was part of an attractive, fluid forward line.
Belgium XI vs. Wales: Courtois; Vanden Borre, Alderweireld, Lombaerts, Vertonghen; Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne; Chadli, Hazard, Origi. #BEL
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 16, 2014
Tasked with breaking through a stoic Welsh defence, who were elevated by a towering Ashley Williams, Origi’s invention and pace were effective in the early stages in Belgium.
Not least this could be seen with an excellent backheeled through-ball into the path of Chadli.
Under pressure from Chris Gunter, the Spurs midfielder couldn’t finish off what was an inspired move from the Liverpool loanee.
However, replaced by Dries Mertens on 73 minutes after a spell alongside substitute Benteke, this seemed to highlight Origi’s tiring display.
Not able to put a real stamp on proceedings, Origi shrank into the periphery more and more as the game went on.
Better than Balotelli?
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the current struggles of Mario Balotelli in a Liverpool shirt since his £16 million summer move, the potential availability of Origi in January has piqued the interest of many.
Not least was former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson, who heaped praise on the Belgian in a recent piece for the Liverpool Echo.
Lawrenson summarises the situation by claiming Origi “is better than Mario Balotelli is at present.”
He continues by professing that “Sure, he is raw. But it is better to be raw with great pace than be raw and merely be a great technician.”
The assumption, first and foremost, that Balotelli is a mere “great technician” ignores the tireless defensive work that the Italian contributes—a quality so applauded when bursting from the engine of Luis Suarez.
The former Milan man has undoubtedly struggled as a lone striker, and a paltry goal return so far underlines this, but to suggest that Origi, who has scored three goals in 11 appearances in Ligue 1 so far this season, is a “better” option is bemusing.
As has been mentioned ceaselessly: Balotelli himself identified that he is not suitable as a lone striker, and also his partnership with Daniel Sturridge against Spurs was hugely promising.
Clearly, Reds fans will have a better judge on the Italian after a handful of games alongside Sturridge. Then it will be fair to compare Origi and Balotelli, but far from it is the Belgian the better player.
Liverpool fans, what did you make of Divock Origi? He's still only scored 14 goals in his entire career… pic.twitter.com/nuBEG3oT6i
— bet365 (@bet365) November 16, 2014
A Lille While Longer
With the clamour for Origi to join the Liverpool attack this January comes more than a measure of desperation.
Lawrenson’s comments on the Belgian striker being “better than Balotelli” echo this, and while the 19-year-old is clearly hugely talented and arguably better suited to Rodgers’ system than the Italian, this is a knee-jerk proposal on the back of Liverpool’s poor form.
The former Reds’ notion that Origi should move in January because “Lille aren’t doing very well at the moment” ignores the fact that neither are Liverpool.
What suggests that the striker would be better off on Merseyside?
As his performance at the King Baudouin Stadium on Sunday proved, Origi is far from the finished article, and would benefit from staying away from the pressure of an Anfield cauldron.
Divock Origi clearly has quality and potential in droves, as could be seen in flashes for Belgium against Wales, but Brendan Rodgers would be unwise to pin his hopes on the 19-year-old as early as January.
Did Divock Origi show enough against Wales to warrant a starting place for Liverpool? Let us know in the comments below.