Pundit can't believe Origi could leave Liverpool in January after report from Italy
Liverpool can’t afford to let Divock Origi depart in January with the African Cup of Nations on the horizon, according to Noel Whelan.
The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted the 26-year-old will be an “integral part” of the Reds’ attack this term.
According to Tuttomercato (11 December), Origi is a target for Italian sides AC Milan and Atalanta in January.
The Belgium international has scored five goals in 10 appearances this season, earning the praise of manager Jurgen Klopp.
The German, as quoted by the Mirror (6 December), insisted Origi is “incredibly talented”.
Whelan suggested Klopp has realised the importance of the 26-year-old ahead of a potential title battle this season.
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“I’m not sure whether they can afford to let him go in January, maybe in the summer,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.
“I’ve seen the way Jurgen Klopp goes on about him as a person, as a character, as a footballer. There’s obviously great mutual respect there.
“I think Klopp realises how much he is going to need Origi this season, especially during the African Cup of Nations.
“It’s a crucial time. It’s probably why he’s been given that extra bit of game time – just to ease him into match sharpness. He’ll be an integral part of that front three with Sadio Mane and Mo Salah missing.”
Mane and Salah will join up with their respective nations for the African Cup of Nations next month.
The tournament is slated to run from 9 January to 6 February.
The Merseyside club sit second in the league, just a point behind leaders Man City.