Christian Benteke might be going to Liverpool, Carlos Tevez is less likely to be going to Liverpool and Danny Ings has already gone to Liverpool. As always, forwards are big news on Merseyside.
Yet in amongst the apparent bids, the clickbait rumours and the actual deals is the return of a young player who has been out of sight for the past season, but rarely out of mind.
At just 20 years old, Divock Origi has had a year in which perceptions of him have changed, even if those making them weren’t likely to have seen more than a Vine or a YouTube video or read more than an inflammatory headline.
First he was the skinny kid who played upfront for Belgium at last summer’s World Cup in place of the injured Benteke and the out-of-form Romelu Lukaku; raw but full of promise. Then he was the player the Reds tried to liberate from his loan at Lille in January to help with their goalscoring issues; a gamble and a sign of desperation, but one worth making. Now he’s the overrated youngster, almost a forgotten man before he’s even given supporters anything to remember.
Such is the way at Liverpool, there is always a story or two to dominate a news agenda, from rejected contracts to wantaway players to apparent transfer targets, and it all means that Origi – who is a new signing in all but name – is almost slipping into the club via the back door.
At a time when a big name forward is seemingly demanded by fans who have seen Daniel Sturridge struggle with injury, Raheem Sterling struggle with what is right for his career, Ings struggle to generate much excitement and Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini just plain struggle, Origi arrives with a less than stellar goal record in France last season and to the sound of mocking laughter.
His selection for Ligue 1’s ‘Worst XI of the season’ in respected French newspaper L’Equipe after playing for a poor Lille side was all that was needed for plenty to throw their hands up into the air and declare this as another transfer failure from Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool’s famed committee, but actually allowing him to play for the club before jumping to conclusions would be nice.
As he joins a league in which plenty of his compatriots thrive on a weekly basis, Origi is bringing with him a far greater physical frame that we saw at the World Cup, not to mention pace and a desire to run beyond the last defender.
That final trait is what the Reds lacked during the nightmare first period of their 2014/15 season, when neither Balotelli nor Lambert possessed the will, the knowhow or the ability to stretch the game by turning their markers and forcing them backwards.
When Sterling started playing upfront and doing just that, Liverpool improved and Philippe Coutinho and sporadically Adam Lallana thrived in the space they suddenly had. Results got better until the wheels came off late in the campaign.
That desire to run will be one of the key qualities which has attracted Rodgers to Ings, who spent a lot of time manning the channels for Burnley but will presumably prefer the more accurate passes played in his direction by Liverpool’s more talented midfielders.
The young Englishman has arrived with little fanfare and even less expectation – largely because he’s from Winchester, signed from Burnley and is called Danny Ings.
In modern football’s image-obsessed culture he quite literally isn’t the big name signing that people want, but if he’s going to be judged based on what he isn’t rather than what he is, then perhaps the same should be true of Origi, who is two years his junior.
If it really is ‘clear the decks’ time for Liverpool’s forwards and Sterling, Balotelli, Lambert and Borini are all to leave this summer, Sturridge’s injury absence for the start of the new campaign means that right now only Ings and Origi could pass for ‘senior’ forwards – a staggering fact at a club who want to be challenging for the top four again.
A new, more experienced name is needed, preferably one who fits in with the style of play this time and doesn’t force too much expectation onto Ings and Origi this early in their Liverpool careers.
Because right now, like everything else going on at the club, they need to be handled with care.
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