With Liverpool due to face Manchester United this coming Thusrday for the first time ever in European competition, one man has been speaking about how he could have been lining up for the away side at Anfield.
Forward Divock Origi, a summer arrival at Anfield following a £10m deal agreed in 2014, was courted by Manchester United as a 15-year-old, only for the the then Genk player to turn down the chance to move to Old Trafford.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, Origi explained his reasoning, and why he felt he had to instead move to French side Lille:
“I came back from school and my father and mother sat down and I saw them discussing and I knew they had a way that they wanted things to go but they told me I could choose,
“I think it was just the decision of my heart [to go to Lille]. I saw Eden Hazard come through and these other players there like Gervinho and Joe Cole. I thought I’d have the chance to go through there.
“I didn’t have anything against Manchester United or any team. My dream was to play in the Premier League one day but my heart said that I had to go through at Lille.”
Origi credits his father as having a massive influence on his career, and as such listened to his advice when it came to continuing his development.
Origi would get his chance in the Premier League a few years later, however, as Liverpool agreed a deal with Lille for his services under the proviso that he would remain in France for one more year.
He had less reservations about moving to Anfield, though he may have been playing under Jürgen Klopp much sooner if Dortmund had been successful in their pursuit of the Belgian international:
“To be honest, I knew Dortmund were interested but I was more focused on Liverpool at the time as they were very keen on having me and my choice was made.
“As a club I saw that it is a very ambitious club, a warm club and more like a family. I learned about the values of the club – it likes to fight for what they want and believe in.
“I am at the right place, I just hope everything goes okay and I have the right mentality.”
Origi had something of an indifferent final season in Lille (including the dubious honour of being named in L’Équipe’s “worst eleven if the season”) but has grown into his role at Liverpool.
Injuries have limited him to just nine Premier League appearances (21 overall), yet Klopp has seen enough that that the 20-year-old has leapfrogged compatriot and fellow international Christian Benteke to the role of Daniel Sturridge’s understudy at the club.
Origi is likely to feature at some point against Manchester United on Thursday, as well as the return leg at Old Trafford a week later.
Rather than thinking about what might have been, however, Origi remains focused improving for his current club:
“I think it took me a while to adapt, but now things are going better,
“I have worked hard. I have learnt a lot and am starting to see the profits.”