Why Rhian Brewster can step up and take Divock Origi’s place this summer

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Following a half-season loan that saw him score 11 goals in 22 games for Swansea, Rhian Brewster returns to Liverpool and could be considered to replace Divock Origi.

As loan spells go, things could not have gone much better for Brewster at Swansea.

While his time in south Wales ended in bitter disappointment with a Championship playoff semi-final defeat to Brentford, he still went out with a well-taken goal at Griffin Park.

That brought his tally to 11 in just 22 outings for the Swans, and he departed on glowing praise from his strike partner, Andre Ayew.

“Rhian has everything to play for. He has goals, he has speed, and he has power,” the 30-year-old, who was the only Swansea player to score more than Brewster last season, said.

“He is still young, and he has a few things to learn and improve on, but when we are talking about a pure finisher and talent in front of the goal, he has it all.

“He has everything a striker needs to get, and that is very important.

“When you are 19 or 20, and you see the season he has had. If he continues to work hard, he is going to be a top, top player.”

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 25, 2020: Swansea City's Rhian Brewster applauds the supporters after the Football League Championship match between Stoke City FC and Swansea City FC at the Britannia Stadium. Swansea City lost 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Swansea are, unsurprisingly, hoping to prolong his stay at the Liberty and remain in talks with Liverpool over another loan deal, as uncertainty reigns.

The striker is still in the dark over Jurgen Klopp‘s plans for next season, but as it stands will report back to Melwood on August 15 to train with the Liverpool first team.

That is where he should stay, with Brewster’s time with the Swans suggesting he is now capable of making the step up to challenge at Liverpool.

With the Reds already pulling out of a deal for Timo Werner, and with Klopp acknowledging the difficulty they face in financing major signings, the emphasis has been on finding in-house solutions.

A supplementary attacker is widely regarded as a priority, with no player outside of the established front three scoring more than 10 goals in all competitions last season.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the next-highest, with eight, while Origi only managed six, his worst return for Liverpool, despite making 42 appearances.

The Belgian’s heroics on the way to the European Cup have made him a cherished figure at Anfield, and there were occasions when he delivered in 2019/20, too, but they were few and far between.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 4, 2019: Liverpool's Divock Origi during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 234th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Too often his approach jarred with that of the rest of Liverpool’s attack, preferring to slow down play and rely on his trickery, and as the primary backup to both Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, it is a concern.

It has already been suggested that the Reds could part ways with their No. 27 if they receive the right offer, and Aston Villa have been mentioned as possible suitors, though sources in his native Belgium have claimed he is eager to stay.

But with Brewster back and having produced a stunning return in his first half-season of regular senior football, Origi may have a serious challenger for his place.

“He came out of a long-term injury, so I thought he needed to just get a rhythm, get used to his body again, his body needed to get used to the intensity,” Klopp said after Brewster made the switch to Swansea.

“Now he’s already training for a long, long period, and so it was a good moment to give him on loan and to help Swansea as well, and hopefully Swansea can help Rhian and then us.”

The Swans were one of 15 clubs with a hope of finishing in the playoffs when the young striker arrived on January 7, and it certainly proved a mutually beneficial agreement despite ultimately failing to return to the Premier League.

CARDIFF, WALES - Sunday, January 12, 2020: Swansea City's Rhian Brewster during the Football League Championship match between Cardiff City FC and Swansea City FC at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After a bright display on his baptism-of-fire debut against Cardiff, Brewster scored in only his second game for the club, a 2-1 win over Wigan.

Three more came before the season’s break, and he picked up where he left off on its resumption, with six goals in the final nine games of the normal campaign to help clinch a sixth-placed finish.

Only one player scored more goals in the Championship, including the playoffs, in the time since Brewster’s debut on January 12—that being Brentford’s Said Benrahma, who struck 12 times.

He took over the responsibility from Ayew up front, with the Ghanain scoring seven in the same period, of which four were penalties, and it is no surprise Steve Cooper remains a firm admirer.

The array of finishes he produced for the Swans was reminiscent of his eight-goal haul on the way to the Golden Boot for Cooper’s triumphant England side at the Under-17 World Cup in 2017.

At that tournament, Brewster scored four goals with his natural right foot, one with his weaker left, one with his head, one free-kick and one penalty; for Swansea, he netted seven with his right and four with his left.

There were finishes on the turn, at the front post, from long range, on the volley, on the run and standing still.

His most eye-catching may have been a 35-yard piledriver against Reading, but similarly impressive was his improvised, left-footed strike against Nottingham Forest and his dink from outside the area against Brentford.

He could have even had another to his name, only for his brilliant free-kick to go over the line via Millwall goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski to go down as an own goal.

It is the product of natural ability, but also of hours spent on the training ground honing his craft, and working with the likes of Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler at Kirkby, and then Mane, Firmino and Mo Salah at Melwood, will have aided this.

CARDIFF, WALES - Sunday, January 12, 2020: Swansea City's Rhian Brewster during the Football League Championship match between Cardiff City FC and Swansea City FC at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But he is far from just a poacher, with Brewster using his time at Swansea to highlight the other qualities he has gleaned from Firmino, having explained in 2017 that he looks to “mimic the way he plays” on and off the ball.

There was a real physicality to his game on show in south Wales, with five yellow cards in his first 10 games and seven overall indicating an overexuberance at times.

He was effective in his pressing, too, with a 61.5 percent tackle success rate—albeit Brewster’s was from a smaller sample size, that compares well to Firmino’s 52.9 percent.

But the challenge of doing so week in, week out, and often two times a week, was a new experience for the 20-year-old, and this will have improved him immeasurably.

“I came to Swansea without any real first-team experience. I had played a couple of games for Liverpool in the cup, but this has been physically very hard,” he explained at the end of his loan.

“I have never done this before and after the restart we had a game every few days, and my body hasn’t been used to that.

“I think I have developed a lot, and my mind has as well, to keep going no matter what.”

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Monday, April 24, 2017: Liverpool's Rhian Brewster before the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match against Manchester City at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This shift in mentality builds on what he already showed in the Liverpool academy, where he caught the eye with his pace, power, work rate, movement, anticipation and deadly finishing.

But at Swansea, he honed his qualities as a pure No. 9, when previously he has proved he can play all over the forward line.

“I just try and play wherever I’m asked, whether that’s up front, left wing or right wing,” he told the Liverpool Echo in January.

“I just try and play the best I can.”

This versatility may be his route into the first team, and particularly if it comes at the expense of Origi, who is clearly valued by Klopp but has not shown the consistency required.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 22, 2019: Liverpool's Rhian Brewster, Neco Williams and Harvey Elliott during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match between KRC Genk and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

A shift in focus onto youth, with the promotions of Neco Williams, Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott, has given Liverpool an added verve, with their hunger enamouring the manager, and there is no reason why Brewster cannot add to this.

Translating his performances from a side chasing promotion from the Championship to one looking to win back-to-back Premier League titles may be a challenge for Brewster, and there is still a chance he heads out on another loan.

The current situation is a unique one, though, and if Liverpool are looking to save money in the transfer market, they should look no further than their No. 24, who has elite potential.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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