Soccer has become a game that’s very much needs must if you’re looking to compete at the sharp end of the spectrum. So at this relatively early stage of the season, if it becomes apparent that a top side needs a forward, the January window presents a fine opportunity to bolster ranks. Typically, they’ll splash the cash to make that happen.
Liverpool are a club that need to rediscover their incisive edge, but they’re in a unique situation in their pursuit of firepower, with reports suggesting that Divock Origi could be on his way to Merseyside at the start of 2015, per the Liverpool Echo. The Belgian international was signed by the Reds from Lille in the summer, before being subsequently loaned back to the French outfit for the current campaign to continue his development.
These reports have been sparked after Daniel Sturridge suffering another injury that’ll see him miss the rest of the calendar year, the Reds look very short up front despite a summer splurge that topped £100 million.
Now, reports suggest that Brendan Rodgers is willing to pay a premium to get Origi on board in January. The 19-year-old add the dynamism and physicality that the Reds have been lacking without their star striker, but Liverpool should resist the urge to draft in Origi earlier than initially planned.
The Lille man is a player that has all the requisite attributes to blossom into a top class striker. The teenager stands at an imposing 1.85m tall, is blisteringly quick and he utilizes possession with an intelligence that surpasses his years. But he’s still raw, still learning about the game and is enduring a difficult season with Lille, scoring just three goals in 11 domestic appearances so far.
Perhaps he already has his eye on a move to Anfield and a switch to Merseyside would spur him on? Indeed, Origi looked more than comfortable starting at the World Cup, bullying experienced defenders with a coalescence of pace and power. And there’s little doubt that his qualities would see him have a similar impact up against Premier League defenses.
But bringing him back now would be a short-term fix for the Reds. At the moment he’s being played wide for the French outfit and is simply not ready to lead the line in the Premier League. Having seen him first hand up against Everton, he’s still got a lot to learn and lot of developing to do. At Liverpool, in the short-term he’d get a chance to do so in the rough and tumble environment of English football’s top flight. But once Sturridge does eventually recapture full fitness, will Origi be afforded the appropriate time to blossom as a player?
That development could be hampered further given the massive expectations that’ll be on Origi’s shoulders should he be drafted in a striking emergency. Liverpool have won just four of their 11 league games this season, and while their defence remains a major concern, their attacking incision seems to have disintegrated in recent weeks.
Origi is a young man that could potentially handle those expectations; he has showcased in glimpses that he has both the class and temperament to do so. But if he doesn’t it could stint his progression. Just look at Raheem Sterling, a player who began the season in scintillating fashion, but who has seen his form tail off amid the expectation that comes with being the Kop’s talisman.
Instead of splashing out a reported £3 million on a player they already own, Rodgers should look to utilize the £20 million worth of forward options he brought in during the summer window. Last season, the Northern Irishman’s coaching ability was unanimously hailed as a positive facet of his managerial make-up and it’s time to showcase those talents once again, even if he’s handling a young, unfamiliar crop of players.
Rickie Lambert has struggled to make an impression as an impact substitute since his , so why not give a player Rodgers described as “one of the most accomplished footballers I’ve seen” a prolonged chance, per Sky Sports? He has proven, after all, that if he’s given a sustained role in a side he scores goals; his 13 strikes in last season’s Premier League are a testament to that.
Perhaps he should do more to stir something in Mario Balotelli, who has yet to score a Premier League goal. Maybe the Rodgers can better utilize and motivate a striker he described as a “world-class talent” upon signing, per The Guardian?
He could even turn to Sterling as a make-shift forward. Like Sturridge, he has the pace to stretch defenses and the intelligence to drop into pockets, picking up the ball in dangerous areas. The youngster also shone in a central berth—albeit as a No.10—during the latter stages of last season and during his sparkling early season form, cut a composed figure in front of goal.
Eventually, Origi could be the ideal man to partner Sturridge if Rodgers chooses to move back to a 4-1-2-1 diamond formation, but at this juncture, he’s not quite ready to shine in the abrasive landscape of the Premier League. And while things are admittedly getting desperate for Liverpool, they shouldn’t compromise the development of their young striker.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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