Liverpool need better cover for front three: Neil Humphreys
Klopp needs superior supporting cast to build dynasty at Anfield
Divock Origi is the right Liverpool player for the wrong era.
An affable, popular character, the Belgian belonged among the Spice Boys of the 1990s, wearing the kind of loud suits that matched his new hair colour.
During the 2-0 win over Aston Villa last Sunday, the forward was blond, big and mostly baffling, just like the Reds in previous decades.
Origi looks the part. He just doesn't particularly play the part of a striker leading the line for the English, European and world champions.
He has scored vital goals at crucial times for Liverpool in the last two seasons, but the 25-year-old is neither crucial nor vital to Juergen Klopp's dynasty plans.
If anything, Origi unwittingly highlights that disconnect between Liverpool's success and their squad depth.
Last season, the Reds boasted the first XI to challenge, but not the squad to seriously upset the balance of power in domestic football.
And yet, somehow, they did just that this season, consistently and spectacularly, with fewer attacking resources than Manchester City.
In the last two seasons, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have scored 121 goals between them. In the same period, Origi scored just 12 times (admittedly, some of his goals came in key fixtures).
Obviously, the Belgian cannot score from the bench. On the pecking order, he sits behind the prolific trio.
But he needed 60 minutes against Villa - whereas Firmino required only 11 - to highlight the creative disparities between them.
For an hour, Origi ran into the same spaces as Salah or Mane, essentially handicapping all three of them. He never looked like scoring.
In contrast, substitute Firmino manipulated the space around him, pulling defenders aside to create a path for Mane's opener.
Origi and Takumi Minamino are both on longish contracts, suggesting that they have a future at Liverpool. But it's worth wondering if Klopp is still trying to solve what could be called "the Adama Traore problem".
It's a first-world problem for the man that has everything, but Traore's reported reluctance to fall for Liverpool's charms highlights the dilemma.
Traore has blossomed at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Four goals and nine assists in 32 English Premier League games represents a solid return for a wide man in a top-six side.
And it's equally obvious that Mane and Salah could use the odd breather, especially next season when the demands of retaining the title must be balanced with the desire to restore the natural state of regaining the Champions League.
But the Africans have conjured a combined 33 goals and 15 assists in the league this season. They managed 44 goals and nine assists in the previous campaign).
Traore knows that the odds of him displacing either winger on a regular basis are slim. At 24, he cannot progress from the bench.
In recent days, former Liverpool players Graeme Souness and Michael Owen have criticised the talent gap between the established front three and the rest, questioning the club's failure to sign Timo Werner.
But the criticism sounds a tad naive. Werner wasn't the one that got away. He was the one that didn't want to spend time on the bench.
The same could be said of Kai Havertz, another rising star recently linked with Liverpool. Chelsea have reportedly cut the queue again, leaping ahead of the Reds to wave a contract at Bayer Leverkusen's attacking midfielder.
With 12 goals and six assists in 30 Bundesliga games, Havertz's versatility bears comparison to former Chelsea star Michael Ballack.
But his style doesn't really compare with anyone at Liverpool. Their thunderous counter-pressing feels at odds with Havertz's skill set. He's a natural No.10.
The Reds had one of those in Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian was sold in 2018 and Liverpool won the Champions League and the EPL.
There is always Thiago Alcantara. The Spaniard fancies a new challenge and rumours of a move to Anfield persist. The 29-year-old would offer outstanding midfield support for Jordan Henderson.
But Thiago doesn't address the lack of striking depth or the quirky irony.
Liverpool's lofty status attracts the attention of great forwards, but those guys are presumably not keen to wait in line behind the great forwards already at the club.
Klopp will strive to overcome that paradox.
His tactics rely on superior strength and a startling doggedness that has prevailed for two seasons. Can his front three do it all again for a third time without injuries or loss of form?
As the Villa win demonstrated, a change of gears requires regular changes in personnel.
Origi may carry the odd game, but he cannot be expected to carry a new dynasty.