A Liverpool Fan To Spurs: Avoid Babel Or We Could Catch Up With You

Spurs have been linked with a cut-price move for Ryan Babel this summer. This Liverpool is hoping it happens; he knows how bad he is...
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Spurs have been linked with a cut-price move for Ryan Babel this summer. This Liverpool is hoping it happens; he knows how bad he is...

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Ex-Liverpool forward Ryan Babel looks set to leave Hoffenheim this summer after their new manager – and also ex-Reds defender - Marcus Babbel decided the Dutch forward was not part of his plans and left him out of their pre-season training camp in Austria, forcing him to train with the reserves. As Babel is out of favour in Germany and only has a year left on his contract, his reported price tag of £5m has put several clubs on alert and he has been linked with a move back to England, with Tottenham, Newcastle, Fulham and Swansea all mooted as potential destinations.

Whilst, on paper, the interest in signing a 25-year-old attacker with nearly 50 senior caps for Holland and available for a modest fee is understandable, signing Babel would be a big gamble for anyone. There are still huge question marks over him as a player, and he would likely command a sizeable wage not befitting his worth, nullifying whatever value was found in his transfer fee. His attitude and professionalism have repeatedly been called in to question, and whilst he has demonstrated his obvious ability in flashes throughout his career, he has shown little in the way of consistency and productivity.

Babel was a technically gifted player whose arrogance and poor attitude prevented him from making the most of his obvious ability

Babel’s career at Liverpool is best described as a never-changing, never-ending cycle. Stage one: do nothing for six or seven games, leading to him being dropped from the side - Stage two: impress in a cameo appearance, leading to calls from the fans for him to be given a chance - Stage three: do nothing when given another chance in the side - Stage four: repeat the above ad infinitum. Still, he divided opinion whilst at Anfield: his advocates would argue that he was never given a fair crack of the whip; his critics would point out that he did nothing to warrant a prolonged run of games.

He was at the opposite end of the spectrum to his compatriot and Liverpool teammate Dirk Kuyt. Kuyt was a technically limited player whose professionalism and fantastic attitude allowed him to make the most of his ability and go on to be extremely successful for the Reds; Babel was a technically gifted player whose arrogance and poor attitude prevented him from making the most of his obvious ability, and he was a perennial disappointment. Dirk frustrated fans when he would struggle for form, but his tireless work-rate and humility helped endear him to the Anfield faithful; Babel frustrated fans because looked disinterested most of the time, and the only thing holding him back from becoming a quality player was himself. If we could have combined Babel’s ability with Kuyt’s attitude, we’d have had one hell of a player.

To be fair, his time on Merseyside wasn’t all bad. His finest moment in red was in the quarter-final of the Champions League against Arsenal in the 07/08 season. With five minutes left, Theo Walcott had just gone on a fantastic run past four Liverpool players and then squared the ball to Emmanuel Adebayor, who levelled the game at 2-2; Arsenal were about to go through on away goals having drawn the first leg 1-1 at home. Babel then came off the bench and instantly won a penalty which Steven Gerrard converted to make it 3-2 to Liverpool, and then, with the last kick off the game, Babel scored a fourth to seal the tie and send Anfield in to a state of rapture.

He is as mercurial as the name of Nike boots he wears. He is as erratic as his troublesome antics on twitter.

Still, relief was the main feeling when Babel was sold to Hoffenheim 18 months ago. It was abundantly clear he was not going to succeed with us and it was the right decision to cut our losses when we did. Whilst any potential suitors should not be deterred solely by the fact that Babel didn’t make the grade at Liverpool - he is not the first young player to fail to establish themselves at big clubs after a big money move and he certainly won’t be the last - that he has failed to impress since his move to Germany should set alarm bells ringing. It was the perfect opportunity for him to showcase his talent, but his poor return of 6 goals in 51 appearances for Hoffenheim have seen his stock plummet and him fall out of favour in the international setup.

People are still waiting for Babel to fulfil his potential, but he turns 26 in December and, after eight years of regular first team football, many are still none the wiser as to what his best position is. He has spent most of his career playing on the left of a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, cutting in on his right foot, but was never consistent - he was also tried on the opposite flank to little success. As is the case with Theo Walcott, Babel always spoke of his desire to play as a striker rather than as a wide forward, but whenever he was played through the middle he never showed the instinct or awareness to succeed as a number nine.

As a Liverpool fan I’d be delighted if Spurs or Newcastle were to sign Babel, as it lowers the chance of them signing an effective attacking player, and thus increases our chances of finishing above both sides this season. He is as mercurial as the name of Nike boots he wears. He is as erratic as his troublesome antics on twitter. He is as incoherent as Babelfish translations. His head is in the clouds like the tower of Babel. His performances have been worse than these puns. He should be avoided at all costs.

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