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The ultimate super-sub? Why Divock Origi must look beyond Liverpool

COMMENT: There he was. At it again. Big night. Big game. And Divock Origi delivers. A double in the romp against Everton. Yet another highlight for the Belgian in a Liverpool shirt. But how many more of these will he have...?

After his brace this week, only Steven Gerrard and Robbie Fowler no less have scored more derby goals against Everton. That's some company for the 24 year-old - particularly given his status amongst the current European champions.

Origi will forever be part of folklore at Liverpool. That brace against Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal last season. Getting on scoresheet in the final. The centre-forward will never be forgotten.

But he must feel it. It has to be nagging away at the back of his mind: Is this the best I can do? The European champions. A goalscorer in the semifinal and final. A player who now knows he can deliver on the biggest stages of all. Yet, one who also knows he'll never be regarded as a first-choice amongst this set of Liverpool players. At 24 years of age, coming into his prime, is that enough for Origi?

Ask those in and around the Belgium setup and they're adamant: the lad has the lot. Indeed, some claim he has more in his locker than Romelu Lukaku, now of Inter Milan. The one thing holding him back is a lack of regular first team football and all that would bring to his game.

And how could you argue against such an opinion?

Just consider that crucial goal against Barca - via Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking and driven cross. Lukaku isn't scoring that. At least, you wouldn't bet on it. But Origi met the ball perfectly to fire home. The problem is, he only gets the odd chance here and there to show off such an ability.

Technically more gifted than Lukaku. Faster across the turf. And physically more agile - as his play on the flanks has proven just this season. He does 'have the lot'. Well almost...

There is one thing, at least standing from the outside, you can level at Origi that you could never accuse Lukaku of: a lack of ambition. Indeed, ruthless ambition. Lukaku will sack agents. Fall out with managers. With teammates. Go AWOL. Whatever it takes to get what he wants and to where he wants to go.

Origi, in contrast, just isn't like that. It's not his character, as Reds teammate James Milner admitted just this week: "There are two sides to him really. He's a very intelligent guy and speaks four languages fluently, and you can tell how committed and determined he is by the way he has forced his way back into the team at Liverpool.

"But away from the pitch he's just so incredibly relaxed, without a care in the world."

Popular with teammates. With staff. With his manager. Great teams need selfless players like Origi. He'll play on a flank. He'll play deep. Wherever Jurgen Klopp needs to fill a void. And what's more, he'll be decisive. The legend that is Steve Heighway has a genuine rival.

But is being a super-sub enough for Origi?

Against Everton, Klopp rang the changes. Origi was in, as were Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. And they all contributed. But in the cases of Lallana and Shaqiri, they're at a different stage of their career. The pair aren't over the hill, but they've seen and experienced plenty in their time. And at their age, it's understandable if they both temper personal ambition to be part of this golden era at Anfield.

But at 24, Origi still has his best footballing years ahead of him. For all his ability and for everything he has managed as a Liverpool player, is this bit-part role enough?

Or does he take the plunge? Take a step down to establish himself as a team's outright No9. To become for four or five years the face of not only an attack, but a club. A Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich? An Edi Cavani with PSG? Harry Kane and Tottenham?

Those sources around Martinez's staff insist Origi is capable of such a level. It's why the striker is part of his Belgium squad, despite the limited time he's granted by Klopp.

But for how long? Martinez is selecting Origi for the here and now, though also with an eye on the future. But the potential of a super-sub at 24 reads differently to one at 26 or 27. Is that the career Origi has planned for himself?

Leaving the European champions. Leaving Liverpool at this stage in their cycle. For many, it would be deemed madness. But the ability Origi boasts deserves more than a bit-part role - no matter the club.

Surely the Belgian must see that...

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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