Unwanted legend Divock Origi revels as Liverpool’s underestimated understudy

“Divock Origi, the legend, came and finished it off for us,” smiled Jurgen Klopp. The legend of Barcelona, Tottenham, Everton, Everton and Everton may also be the legend of Wolves now. Saturday’s winner at Molineux may have transported Liverpool back to 2019, to the time when Origi felt deadly in short bursts and likely to provide late drama. But part of the curiosity of Origi, the Champions League final scorer who has rarely been a regular for Liverpool, is that he was the unwanted legend.

Not by Klopp, whose crowning glory was facilitated by Origi, Trent Alexander-Arnold and a corner to seal the greatest Champions League semi-final comeback of all. But by others. Klopp expected Origi’s availability in the summer to prompt a scramble for his services. It didn’t.

“If I would be in another club I would go for him,” he explained. “I thought that would happen but I’m happy he’s still here.” But perhaps his lack of appeal reflects the strangeness of Origi’s position; indeed of his entire footballing existence.

He was the match-winner at Molineux, the player whose nerveless finish turned a point into three. Klopp argued that it is hard to get “500 minutes” of first-team football for Liverpool, but Origi had played 16 of 1,328 in the Premier League this season.

Until he replaced Jordan Henderson, rewound time, rediscovered his talismanic status and ended Wolves’ rearguard action.


That ability to come in from the cold can be invaluable for Liverpool. “He doesn’t need a run-up,” said Klopp, making him sound more like fast bowler than striking substitute. Perhaps a capacity to get up to the speed of a game straight away is less pertinent for possible suitors. A mid-table side may look for a guarantee of goals and games, not a habit of catalytic cameos. In the summer, Aston Villa spent heavily on Danny Ings, scorer of 34 top-flight goals in his last two seasons at Southampton. Origi has got 34 Premier League starts in seven years since joining Liverpool. Last season, his only strike came at Lincoln’s expense. He lost his scoring knack.

It supported the theory that Barcelona was the great outlier in his career. If it was magical Origi upstaged Lionel Messi, it was not a recruitment strategy. It is difficult to ascertain how good he actually is. A likeable soul can appear the Anfield Forrest Gump, a guileless figure who happened to be there when everything happened, rather than the predator with the positional sense to sniff an opening against elite opponents. Certainly Origi’s misses can look inelegant: he is not alone in that but it can mean he doesn’t ooze class. But in between ineffectiveness, he can score a scorpion kick, as he did at Preston in the Carabao Cup, or strike with the deftness of Salah, as he did at Molineux. “He is one of the best finishers I saw in my life,” said Klopp.

The German can praise him, bench him and summon him: sometimes when expected, like when Liverpool were chasing a goal at Wolves, and sometimes not, when he emerged from the shadows to start against AC Milan. But he can also demote him behind Takumi Minamino in the pecking order.

Jurgen Klopp was delighted with Divock Origi’s winner

Iconic as Liverpool’s front three became, they are a four now: if not interchangeable, but with Diogo Jota rivalling Roberto Firmino for a spot when everyone is fit. Origi and Minamino are competing to be fifth in line, fighting to be pigeonholed as super-subs.

January could alter that. But if Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s departures to the African Cup of Nations afford an opportunity, they also make it more probable that Origi will be at Anfield for the remainder of the season. He is forever stuck in an idiosyncratic Origizone, playing a small percentage of minutes but with the potential to exert a huge influence.


He is the constant and the bit-part figure, the second longest-serving first-team player, behind only Jordan Henderson, but one who is rarely in the first team. He was signed with the proceeds from Luis Suarez’s sale; for Liverpool it is another era. “I really hope he finds a manager who plays him more than me,” said Klopp.

Origi predated him and, if there are no takers and he is still only 26, may even outlast him. As Anfield’s iconic but underestimated understudy, he has had a unique Liverpool career. And given his track record of scoring telling goals, the winner at Wolves may add to the legend.

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