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Always on time! Liverpool 'legend' Origi still delivering for Klopp despite the doubters

4:00 PM GMT+8 07/12/2021
Divock Origi Liverpool 2021-22
The 26-year-old marked his 100th substitute appearance for the Reds with the winning goal against Wolves on Saturday - but what does his future hold?

“People will write books about him, hopefully” smiled Jurgen Klopp. “And if not, then I’ll do it!”

The Liverpool boss does not usually like to go overboard when speaking about individuals, but he made an exception at Wolves on Saturday.

Divock Origi, he confirmed, was “a legend”, “an incredible football player”, and when he scores the winning goal, it means that little bit more. 

“I love it!” Klopp added, reflecting on the Belgian’s 95th-minute winner at Molineux.

Boy, the moments this man has given Reds fans down the years. The number of times he has turned up in the right place at the right time, with a big goal in a big game to secure a big result. 

No wonder Klopp loves him. No wonder Andy Robertson was tweeting on Saturday night about taking his grandkids to visit his statue one day. When you need a hero, when Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota cannot open the door, you turn to Origi.

And more often than not, he delivers.

Salah and Mane have both reached 100 Premier League goals this season, and Origi reached a century of his own on Saturday. It was the 100th time he had come on as a substitute for Liverpool. In hindsight, it was inevitable that he would mark the occasion as he did, with another match-winning contribution.

Klopp had given him a simple instruction when sending him on for Jordan Henderson. “Be Divock Origi,” he told him. In other words, come on and be our hero.

“It was his game,” Klopp would say afterwards. “He’s an incredible finisher, we saw that so often.

“And he’s great in these moments [because] he doesn’t need a lot of run-up or time to find the game. He could be Divock Origi, 100 per cent.”

Has there ever been a more enigmatic footballer? One so addicted to the thrills and the memories?

This is Origi’s seventh year on Merseyside, and it feels like we understand him less now than ever before. Just when you think he’s done, up he pops. Again. Remember me?

Liverpool would have sold him last summer had a decent offer arrived. It didn’t. Clubs sniffed and asked questions but, much to Klopp’s surprise, nobody bid.

“I cannot believe that people think if you don’t play [every game] for Liverpool, you cannot be good,” he said on Saturday. 

“This team is outstanding and if you are our No.12, 13 or 14, you have to be outstanding – and Div is."

There are plenty who struggle to understand Origi’s apparent willingness to settle for a bit-part role at Anfield. After all, he has started only 34 Premier League matches for Liverpool. Last season, he made just 17 appearances in all competitions, and failed to register a single league goal. 

He is 26 now, approaching his prime, in theory. Doesn’t he want more than to be a cult hero, they ask?

Plenty of Liverpool fans hope for an upgrade, for a player who can push to start games regularly. An attacking signing next summer is likely, with Leeds’ Raphinha and West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen among those being watched.

Origi is likely to depart at the end of this season. "I hope one day he finds a manager who will play him more than I do," Klopp admitted. "But if I would be in another club, I would go for him."

For now, though, Origi is needed. Now and in the coming months, especially with Salah and Mane due to depart for the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

Liverpool must keep the train on the track during that period, and while the situation is far from ideal. having the Belgian fit, focused and firing would be a huge plus.

Before then, he should get a chance to start when the Reds take on AC Milan in the San Siro in their final Champions League group match on Tuesday. A dead rubber in essence, but a chance to shine in one of the world’s great arenas.

Don’t expect Origi to be at all concerned by that, of course. Speak to those who know him and they’ll tell you he’s the calmest man alive, a character so laid back as to be horizontal. San Siro or Southport, it’s all the same to him.

It has become a running joke at Liverpool that if there is a team meeting or a squad meal, Origi will be the last to arrive. Never late, never hurried. Always there, and always in the nick of time.

And doesn’t that just about sum him up?