Once viewed as an afterthought consistently out on loan, Divock Origi has cemented himself as a member of the first-team squad at Liverpool, and on Wednesday committed his long-term future to the club by signing a fresh new contract.
The club confirmed the extension via an official release, but did not say how long the new deal is to last. Origi’s old contract was set to expire this summer and talks over a new deal had reportedly dragged on for months.
Origi, now 24 years old, signed in the summer of 2014 from Lille as a teenager and spent two seasons out on loan, first back at Lille the year after signing before spending the 2017/18 campaign at German side Wolfsburg. Origi’s development seemed to drag at times, scoring just six goals at Wolfsburg in 31 frontloaded appearances, raising doubts over his future at the club.
However, last season represented a remarkable turnaround that saw Origi play a critical role down the stretch, coming in to spell an injured Roberto Firmino as the club chased Premier League and Champions League glory. While the league chase proved too much as Manchester City never wavered, Origi was vital in the Champions League pursuit, scoring a double in the stunning comeback against Barcelona before coming off the bench in the final to seal the game against Spurs.
“I always felt comfortable here,” Origi told the official club website upon the announcement. “I made steps during my career, I say that I became a man here at this club, I signed when I was 19. When we had to make the decision I just wanted to speak with the club first and my entourage, but the feeling was always that I wanted to stay and extend my contract.”
“It was a challenging season but I always believed if I continued to do the right things and had fun on the pitch, it would come by itself,” Origi said of the most recent campaign, in which he made just 12 league appearances, scoring three goals. “In the end, I got the chance and I was happy to be able to contribute in the right way. It was a very special season.”
Origi’s role at the club remains uncertain, as Firmino impressed this summer at the Copa America with title-winners Brazil and remains the likely first-choice striker, but Origi could still find significant time if Jurgen Klopp were to implement a two-striker system or should Firmino again find himself in the recovery room.
“I really think it’s a win-win situation,” Klopp said upon the announcement, hashing up an old injury suffered three years ago in Premier League play as an example of the Belgian’s turnaround. “It’s a story really only football can write. I never forgot the situation in the Everton game [in 2016], to be honest, when there was that harsh tackle and a red card for Funes Mori. Divock was in the best shape of his life and everybody was so positive about his future, and then things like this happen in football. We always know something like this can happen but when you see it and see the influence it has on a career, it’s just a sad story because he struggled really long with the ankle and stuff like that [and when] he came back the team was flying pretty much.”