LONDON: Liverpool striker Divock Origi (pix) will likely start against AC Milan (Wed 4am Malaysian time) in the Champions League this week but he may have to come to terms with being in and out of the team, manager Jurgen Klopp said on Monday.
The Belgian came off the bench to score a late winner, something of a habit in his career at Anfield, in the Premier League at the weekend over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
With Liverpool already confirmed to finish top of Champions League Group B and games in the league to come thick and fast this month, Klopp will ring in the changes for their trip to Italy on Tuesday.
That looks set to include a start for Origi, who has scored four goals in all competitions this season.
However, he may still remain a squad player and not a starter for Liverpool, something he has done since his arrival in 2015, though Klopp said that did not diminish his importance.
“It’s pretty likely (he’ll start). Moan is not the right word but he knocks on my door and we talk from time to time. It's about letting things happen,” Klopp told a news conference.
“He had injuries in wrong moments. I remember that decisive moment (in 2016) he was flying and got injured against Everton (and) we had to rush him back for the Europa League final. Things like this are decisive for careers.
“Div played behind Mo (Salah), Bobby (Firmino) and Sadio (Mane). It doesn’t mean you’re not world class if you don’t start for us. It’s a nice story, let’s carry on from here.”
Origi has already cemented cult status at Anfield with his winning goal against Barcelona in May 2019 taking them to the Champions League final, where he scored again as they beat Tottenham Hotspur.
“It’s a special thing, Origi’s skillset, that he can come and play brilliantly. In the biggest game in our history against Barca, he started and was incredible,” the German coach added.
“He’s a positive person. Talented, shoots left and right, really quick, in the air a monster. An interesting package.
“But that doesn’t mean you are a constant starter for Liverpool FC, that is how it is. There are worse things in life than not being a regular starter here.”
Klopp may be able to have defender Joe Gomez and midfielder Naby Keita to call on after both took part in full training again.
They will be needed in the coming weeks as Klopp said his side “have to rotate” with six more games this month after the trip to Milan, including a League Cup quarterfinal against Leicester City (Dec 23).
Klopp also said that talks were ongoing with Egyptian forward Mo Salah over a new contract, with his current deal set to expire in 2023.
“Mo is fine, I am fine. I think what we all want is clear things. It needs time, that is it,” he said. – Reuters