Liverpool secured the services of Belgian starlet Divock Origi during the 2014 summer transfer window, but the Reds will have to be very patient in their development of the talented youngster.
Manager Brendan Rodgers told the club's official website he thinks the Reds have snapped up one of the greatest talents in all of football, per James Carroll:
For me, he can be one of the most exciting talents in world football. I genuinely believe that. You see a lot of good players, but this kid - for 19 years of age - he burst onto the scene at the World Cup, but we'd tracked him before that, we'd seen him as a young player playing in the youth internationals. He has everything to be world class.
He's super fast, has a wonderful touch, he's a good size and is aggressive. What I like, and what I have in other players, is that humility to work hard. [...]He can light up world football, for sure.
That is some lofty praise for a 19-year-old who was pretty much mocked by every fan of Belgian football for his inclusion in the team's 2014 World Cup squad just two months ago.
Unless you were a follower of French football or a die-hard scout, chances are you had never heard of Origi before his game-winning strike against Russia. And no one would blame you—after all, he only scored five goals in 30 matches in the French Ligue 1 last season, per WhoScored.com.
Origi has always been talented, and those looking for the next Belgian star have been following him for years now. As shared by BBC's Ben Smith, the Reds had a feeling they had to agree to a deal before the start of the World Cup:
#LFC shrewd to agree fee for Origi before World Cup. Looked a talent. Lille would only do deal if he was loaned back— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) July 29, 2014
His impact at the World Cup was far greater than most would have imagined, but the transfer buzz surrounding his name had nothing to do with game-winning performances or pure dominance on the ball.
Rather, he flashed the kind of potential that makes him such a special talent. Origi isn't just fast—he's insanely fast. Standing well over six feet, his combination of speed and power is breathtaking, and the Belgian Red Devils took full advantage of it.
His potential is tantalising, but fans mustn't forget that, as of right now, he's still incredibly raw as a footballer. His vision and positioning are subpar, even for a player his age. He's not a particularly good finisher, and he'll often leave his assignment on the pitch to chase balls he shouldn't be chasing.
Origi will remind some fans of Romelu Lukaku, who similarly remained on loan at Anderlecht when Chelsea first acquired his rights. But while Origi is older than Lukaku was then, Lukaku was a lot further along in his development than Origi is now.
The reason the comparison with Lukaku is an apt one is because the Belgian international is reportedly leaving Chelsea on a permanent basis, per the Liverpool Echo's Greg O'Keeffe.
Like Origi, Lukaku had (and still has) all the tools to be a world-class striker, but the Blues and their fans expected too much too soon from a player who simply wasn't ready.
There are more reasons Lukaku is reportedly leaving, but a lack of patience certainly played its part. And the Reds can't afford to make the same mistake.
The fans lamenting Origi's loan back to Lille need to understand Origi isn't even remotely close to contributing at a Premier League level. It's impossible to predict how anyone will develop, but based on what we've seen from Origi in the past few years, he won't be ready in 12 months, either.
When will Origi be ready to be an impact player for Liverpool?
Origi is a prospect. He needs time, seasoning and a whole lot of minutes. Right now, he's an athletic freak with a surprisingly good touch who still needs to learn how to position himself and how to score.
Ligue 1 is a good place for him. It doesn't attract much attention in England, so he won't be under constant spotlight, and it's a league he already knows from previous years. He'll remain a part of Belgium national setup, and he'll have every chance to develop at his own pace.
It's vital the Reds don't try to speed up the process by bringing him back too soon. There is nothing worse for a young striker's development than playing in a league that is just a step too fast for him. Not scoring can eat at a player's confidence, and that's the last thing the Reds need right now.
Liverpool should pat themselves on the back for securing one of the brightest talents in all of football, but in reality, Origi's journey to become a player able to contribute to the club is only just beginning.
As long as Rodgers remembers that, Origi's future will look very bright.