Twelve years after signing for Rafa Benitez’s Reds, Ryan Babel is back in the Premier League and made his debut against Spurs last weekend. It’s been eight years since he left the Premier League, but his recent resurgence in form for Besiktas (and the Dutch national team) offers timely hope for a struggling Fulham
And, despite a career that never quite lived up to the hype (by his own admission), there were plenty!
In his three and a half year stint at Anfield, Babel amassed a total of 146 appearances and scored 22 times in all competitions.
Despite some clear moments of magic, he never reached the consistent heights many hoped for. Having been signed as a raw 20-year-old, Babel was regarded as one of the most promising talents in Europe.
However, arriving for £11 million from Ajax as part of a big recruitment drive which included Fernando Torres and Yossi Benayoun would present a tough challenge for Babel to get game time. Especially in his favoured central forward position – because nobody in the world at that stage would have dislodged Torres from the starting berth.
Rafa’s tactical and structured approach was never quite the right fit for a more explosive and dynamic player like Babel. He was often tasked with doing a job on the left
Plus, his off-field antics garnered some questionable media attention. For instance, Babel actually tried his hand as an R&B rap artist… A move he was berated for.
He was then fined in January 2011 after posting a mock-up picture of referee Howard Webb wearing a Manchester United kit after
Despite his moments of magic (remember his goals against Lyon, Arsenal, Besiktas and Chelsea), he was finally offloaded to Hoffenheim in 2011, in a transfer that was largely swept under the carpet by the departure of Torres to Chelsea and the club record signings of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll.
The return of the Bab
I, for one, am looking forward to seeing him in the Premier League once more. I believe he has the ability to succeed at Fulham and I fondly remember him for his super-sub goals for the Reds.
For his part, Babel remains a big Reds fan. He said last season, “Liverpool is my club. I try to follow every game. I still support them, I wish them all the best.”
The feeling will no doubt be mutual.
If in any doubt, this is a former-Red who launched a clothing brand called YNWA – that alone is a reason for us supporters to give him a warm welcome.
Check out his full YNWA range on his website here.
Stay tuned for our upcoming ‘Success or not’ podcast on Babel!