Liverpool’s No. 27 does not do your traditional goals, only the unorthodox, and it left Steven Scragg with the sentiment of: ‘Divock, you big, beautiful, mad bastard’.
Divock Origi has been a Liverpool enigma for what is fast approaching eight years now. Across the span of that time, I think we’ve all probably forgotten he was still employed by the club at one stage or another.
He’s like a recurring character that tips up occasionally in a much loved and long-running television series. As much as some will lament his reappearance as lazy scriptwriting, others will embrace his presence as something akin to the embrace of a long-lost friend.
Divock is essentially the Professor Frink of the Liverpool squad. Up he pops once in a while to deliver a killer line that underlines his sporadic value, yet nobody would probably notice if he quietly slipped out of the back door to sign for Brentford or a fallen giant of Serie A.
Rightly or wrongly, every summer, his continued attendance in the Liverpool squad is used as a stick with which to beat FSG, brandished as the prime example of how tightly Liverpool’s owners hold the purse strings.
Divock is a player that many believe should have been moved on years ago; a player who would have sat within that sweet transfer spot of Bournemouth a few years back, a vortex into which Jordon Ibe, Brad Smith and Dominic Solanke fell.
Yet, almost stubbornly, Divock has carved himself a legendary niche at Liverpool. He has become the watchword for some of the most pronounced moments of incredulousness under Jurgen Klopp, be it delivering the punchline in the last seconds of the Merseyside derby, when the ball bounced along the Kop end crossbar, or his majestic pickpocketing of Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final, or his anxiety settling goal in the Champions League final.
A player that should be the ultimate cult hero, I can’t imagine another role in football that would work for Divock as successfully as the one he possesses at Anfield.
One of only three survivors from the first-team squad that Klopp inherited, Divock is never going to be a regular starter, yet you’re left with the feeling that being a regular for a lesser team would prove less satisfying for him.
There is a touch of the David Fairclough or Phil Boersma to Divock in this respect. He must be frustrated at times, yet the grass would not necessarily be greener elsewhere. Percentages were played, rather than trees uprooted in his loan spells back at Lille after his initial arrival, and later with VfL Wolfsburg.
It leaves Divock in a state of limbo. That was a magnificently ludicrous goal he scored at Deepdale on Wednesday night, his second in this season’s League Cup, yet it will obviously not gain him any traction on trying to make up ground in transforming the bunfight that is condensing Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Diogo Jota into three places in the starting line-up, for they are lightyears ahead of the Belgian international.
For a player who is still only 26, there should be much more to football for Divock, yet here he remains and given he is just two years into the long-term contract he signed in the summer of 2019, then the likelihood is that he will maintain his role of being a part of the furniture of Klopp’s Liverpool.
In many respects, this is no bad thing. He is neither an up-and-coming youth product, whose path to first-team football is heavily blockaded, nor is he a new signing that is going to become swiftly dissatisfied with the lack of opportunities. Divock knows the situation, he is familiar with the choir he is preaching to.
Divock is essentially stuck in a glorious rut.
However, injuries will occur, the traditional Christmas and New Year fixture pile-up will present itself and the Africa Cup of Nations will arise in January. He might seem like that member of the Star Trek crew that nobody recognises and is clearly doomed when beamed to the surface of a mysterious planet alongside Kirk, Spock, Chekov, and Bones, but he will prove to be quite integral in the winter months.
This means that our elongated presence within this season’s League Cup will act as the perfect way to keep Divock in supply of a competitive game, at least once a month.
Our performance against Preston North End was predictably disjointed, in a game where the hosts even made a spate of changes to their line-up. You can’t make 11 changes and expect a seamless transition from the beautiful madness of Sunday to the meat and potato of a fourth round League Cup tie three days later.
I’ll be an interested observer of the quarter-final draw, but bigger fish are on the menu across the next week and a half before yet another international halt is called.
Divock is unlikely to be called upon to make a contribution.