Lazy, miserable, inept, frustrating…. all words regularly heard around Anfield in relation to one man, Ryan Babel.
Since his arrival in 2007, Babel has continued to disappoint, unable to build on a promising start to his career. With Arsenal also reportedly big admirers of the Dutchman three years ago, Liverpool had to act quickly, eventually securing his signature for £11.5 million. After coming though the famous Ajax youth system, Babel had made his debut for the senior team aged just 17.
It was Babel’s performances during the UEFA Under-21 tournament in 2007 that convinced many of his potential talent. Babel received glowing reports throughout and seemed set to be the next big talent to come out of Holland. Liverpool fans were certainly excited at his signing, especially after seemingly beating Arsenal to his signature. A young player well thought of by Arsene Wenger is certainly one worth watching.
Babel actually began his Liverpool career reasonably well, scoring delightful goals in a 6-0 drubbing of Derby County early in the season and an 8-0 thrashing of Besiktas in the Champions League. Further goals in Europe against Marseille and Arsenal were promising signs and something that Babel could build on. Unfortunately he continues to show no sign of improvement. If anything he has got worse.
Liverpool fans have always been patient with new signings, allowing them time before passing judgement and offering encouragement and support when things appear to be going wrong. They can forgive a glaring miss or a prolonged goal drought a la Peter Crouch. What they do not forgive however, is lack of effort, drive and determination. Babel clearly lacks in all of these areas.
Babel is a player who seems to lack any competitive edge whilst on the pitch. Half hearted tackles being the hallmark, his effort is minimal, choosing not to use the weapons available to him. Blessed with lightening pace, he refuses to use it to its full potential, choosing instead to take the easy option and unwilling to take the imitative.
Involved in various run-ins with Rafael Benitez and the odd Twiiter rant complaining about a lack of playing time, Babel ‘s inability to prove himself worthy of a place in the side when given the opportunity is what angers Liverpool fans most. His performances leave him in no position to complain about not being selected. Compare Babel’s effort and work rate to that of his fellow countryman Dirk Kuyt and the difference is that of night and day. He is also not a player who seems to enjoy his football. As a 23 year old footballer doing what he apparently loves most and playing for Liverpool in the Premier League, you would think a smile wouldn’t be too much of a stuggle. Even when managing to get on the scoresheet Babel remains stern faced. Perhaps just his way, it certainly doesn’t aid his cause in endearing himself to the fans.
Looking to the future for both the player and Liverpool, it appears that a move away from Anfield will be the best solution for both parties. Liverpool fans will certainly not be sad to see him go. As one of the few players who could command a decent fee, apart from the untouchables of Gerrard and Torres, the new manager at Liverpool will welcome the funds to try and begin making his own mark on the squad. The £8 million that Birmingham bid in January should have been gratefully accepted. If such a bid is forthcoming again this summer then it is a struggle to see it not being accepted. It is puzzling that despite such a disappointing couple of years Babel has still been named in the Dutch squad for the World Cup. Although a squad player, Liverpool may hope he will have some kind of impact during the tournament to try and increase club’s interest in the player.
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