Jurgen Klopp says he cannot believe Divock Origi is still at Liverpool and admitted he thought the striker would leave Anfield this summer.
Liverpool were believed to be open to offers for Origi this summer, as per The Atheltic, after making just two Premier League starts last season.
There was rumoured interest from Wolves and West Ham, while Fotospor claimed Fenerbahce were closing in on a deal earlier this month. The Turkish transfer window did not close until September 8. The Super Lig side though did not pursue their reported interest.
So instead of playing for Fener, Origi, 26, was left kicking his heels on the sidelines at Anfield.
Klopp though made four changes to his side for Wednesday night’s Champions League win over AC Milan. And Origi was afforded a rare start in the come-from-behind 3-2 victory.
It was his first Liverpool start since January having not featured in the manager’s last three squads.
The Belgium international, who scored in the semi-final and final when Liverpool won the Champions League in 2019, put in a performance which offered hope he could still have a part to play. And his manager intends to utilise the striker despite him seemingly falling out of favour over the last 18 months.
“In 10 years’ time when we look back he will be a Liverpool legend. But he is too young to be already seen as a legend now so he has to play football,” said Klopp.
“To be 100% honest I thought he would maybe leave in the summer. But the football world is a crazy place and people obviously forgot how good he is.
“It is really difficult to get into this team. That’s just how it is. I have to decide about different positions, who I bring on, how I want to react before a game.
“That’s why Div was not in, he did nothing wrong. He trains, he gives everything and sometimes you still don’t make it into the squad.
“That really can happen, especially when everybody is fit. But he was the right player to do it and he did really well.
“I’m really happy I could give him the opportunity and that he used it like he did.”
Meanwhile, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson admits the players have to learn from their lapse in focus which made their victory over AC Milan harder than it should have been.
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Klopp’s side seemed in full control even after a rare Mohamed Salah penalty miss which followed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s deflected goal.
But an ill-disciplined couple of minutes just before half-time allowed the visitors to score twice.
Henderson: Milan win a rollercoaster ride
Liverpool’s defence was without the rested Virgil Van Dijk. That however should be no excuse as their last two exits in the knockout phase of the competition have been after letting their guard down when in good positions.
While it is still early days in their European campaign Henderson, whose first Champions League goal in seven years secured victory, knows they have to cut out the errors.
“It was a bit of a roller coaster. I’m sure it was very good to watch as a neutral,” said the midfielder.
“I thought for the majority of the game our performance level was really good. Obviously we had a spell towards the end of the first half, the last 10 to 15 minutes, where we weren’t quite at it and we were a little bit sloppy and we got punished with two goals.
“I think the performance level for 70-75 minutes was very good. We just need to learn about that 10 to 15-minute spell and make sure that doesn’t happen too often otherwise you’ll get punished at this level.
“Yeah, we made hard work of the game but you’ve got to give credit to Milan. They’re a good side, good players.
“But I thought the boys reacted so well in the second half. We kept going, kept fighting and managed to find a couple of goals to win the game. So overall (I’m) delighted with the result.”